Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The phantoms of ideology

You can skip this boring part ...

LI has not been able to keep up with Chabert in her multi-entry assault on Derrida. As in a proper duel, this one has been about honor – Chabert defending Marx from Derrida’s “cynicism” and misprision – or outright fraud - and LI lagging behind, defending the honor of Derrida. But that’s a harder task to do for a writer who was born into the decline of the honor culture than to do for a writer who was conversant enough, in his student days, with dueling clubs. So I have defended, instead, a Derridian approach to Marx – which is to see Marx’s texts not in terms of doctrines that become lessons to repeat, but as historically situated, and full of conceptual choices that pull against each other. Some are derived from ripostes and occasions and gradually entombed in the massive work - this is true, I believe, of Marx's materialism. Or, just the reverse, promising tendencies from the romantic years are not fully developed - Marx's idea of alienation, for instance, which never seems to be socially embedded to account for alienation across the classes. In any case, Derrida’s Specters of Marx is about entering the texts by a back way – for instance, by way of a persistent metaphoric – and which is fully connected to the history it made, which is, it should be needless to say, a preeminently European history. We are of course speaking of a writer who self consciously represented the framework for the European alternative in German history – as the cliché has it, Zivilisation vs. Kultur. The non-European tendency in German history – that urge to become the Volk der Mitte, which Thomas Mann writes about in The Reflections of a Non-Political Man – project a system of rejections that led to a bad end. One of the Chabertian themes that has been helpful to me in the past is her sense of how composite, how full of input from the outside, is Europe, and how full of forgetting the Eurocentric position has to be. I’ve been rather surprised that she has skipped this theme in Marx, for it is, after all, one of the major themes in the Specters – those ghosts from the “superstitious” past that must be chased away in the name of science. Among other things, the German Ideology is about the border of that so called European form of thinking.

Well, the duel has been conducted with some fierceness on both sides. And it has spread, I’m pleased to say. Tables have been kicked over, bystanders sprayed with breaking glass. Or at least there has been some responses, here and there. I particularly note Praxis, who has had a number of posts about Marx and Derrida.

And start reading here:

And now our frequent commentor, Amie, has written an incredible piece on Marx and is allowing us to post it. Hooray!

She hasn’t given it a title. I’m tempted to chose one from the Three Musketeers - for instance, LES MOUSQUETAIRES DU ROI ET LES GARDES DE M. LE
CARDINAL. But instead, I’ll call it The Phantoms of Ideology

CLOV (regard fixe, voix blanche). –
Fini, c'est fini, ça va finir, ça va peut-étre finir.(un temps.)

- Samuel Beckett, Fin de partie, 1957.

I'm very late in entering the lists for the "duel" with the Colonel. If I haven't before, it's not that I'm afraid that I would risk losing my head in the duel, though that is highly likely. It has more to do with the fact that the set-up is more akin to lining up ducks in a tub and shooting at them from close range with an elephant gun. Where is the gallantry in that! The "production values" are not exactly water-tight. The tub has holes in it, the water leaks everywhere, the ammo gets all wet, and the ducks continue to speak in tongues. Or in French, which is the same thing after all.

But why quibble when the pay-off is that Derrida is a shorter Charles de Gaulle and an apologist for the Nazis, which is quite the dénouement.

Alas, the staging is such that it ends up shooting the hero of the drama in the chest. Poor Marx, his texts once again reduced to a doctrine, and him reduced to the role of an idealogue. I search on the Colonel's set in vain for the great Marx, the thinker, the revolutionary, the writer. The Marx who was too much of a thinker to hasten to conclusions or tailor them to suit the "facts" without submitting the facts or the cloth to scrutiny even if they fell apart in his hands, who was too much of a revolutionary to bow down to facts or reversals in fortune or to pass by catastrophes as if they had never happened, too much of a writer to not ceaselessly rework this texts and rectify them in the blinding light of events rather than succumb to the vanity of a finished work and the illusions of a total doctrine. Did he ever conclude?

The question I would like to ask concerns ideology. After all, the first post in the series began with bringing up ideology, of which the Colonel says that it might do or count for a "little something". What if ideology counted and did more that a little something for Marx, something he had to confront and account for and more than once?

The good folk who have Marx well in hand and the Marx-Engels Werke at their fingertips will undoubtedly know the rather strange way in which ideology flits in and out of those texts. The term of ideology is everywhere in the texts from 1845-1846, reduced to a few marginal occurrences between 1847-1852, and then is almost nowhere to be found, until returning rather prominently in the 1870s. I'm not bringing this up as a matter of mere philological interest, there is something else involved.

Let's take up The German Ideology. I can hardly get into the entire history of the composition and publication of this text, but why does this text essentially written (mostly by Marx) between 1845 and 1846 not get published till 1932? Is it only because of the difficulties of finding a publisher, something that Marx was to endure more than once, or is there something else as well? And may I add, that one has merely to look at the composition and history of this text and the related correspondence between Marx and Engels to see that the two do not exactly share the Colonel's opinion that Max Stirner is a feeble-minded idiot not worth reading. On the contrary they go to considerable time and trouble to read, discuss and respond to Stirner and at some length. The "Saint Max" section in The German Ideology accounts for two-thirds of the entire text and the debate with Stirner is no less present in the first section on Feuerbach. Indeed, Engels is one of the first readers of Der Einzige und Sein Eigeuntum and recommends, even insists, that Marx do so. If Marx's response to Stirner is in scathing terms – which is hardly unusual for Marx – it is because Der Einzige und Sein Eigeuntum poses not a few problems for Marx and Engels, hits home, as it were. As I am not concerned here with Marx's setting of accounts with Stirner but with Marx's own settling of accounts with ideology, let me pass on and briefly rehearse some of the well-known themes of The German Ideology.

The guiding thread of the text is the division of labor from which Marx deduces the successive forms of property and State. The two main intertwined threads of the text are production and ideology. Marx analyses man's productive activity from its beginning which is man confronting nature to its end point which is bourgeois/civil society. Much of the text is organized around the notion of production and one might even say that here Marx is proposing a social ontology of production as it is production that defines and shapes man's being (Sein) and his "ensemble" of social relations. For to recall the much debated and discussed sixth thesis on Feuerbach (with its mixture of French and German): "But the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of social relations" (das Ensemble der gesellschaftlichen Verhältnisse).

Enter Ideology. With its abstractions and illusions – and its uncanny power. Let's first consider the most common reading of ideology in this text. It is one that is fostered by the rather misleading form of the text as it is published (which occurs in 1932 let us recall.) It is not a little misleading as it actually inverts the order in which the text was written by placing the polemical part second as if it had secondary value or was but an appendix and putting the first part at the head, presenting it as if it was a stand-alone account of "historical materialism". So then ideology can be read in terms of the development of the division of labor, can be read as a derivation of the "base" of "real life" and production. It would then be a matter of demystifying the mechanisms of illusion and of "autonomization" by which a "fantastic" world replaces – substitutes for – reality. The matter is of course not so simple or reassuring. For one thing, as we shall see, the process of demystification, the reduction of the "fantastic" world and the access to historical reality for Marx is only possible through historical change – revolution. But in such a reading of ideology one can at least rest secure and be (re)assured that in the realm of real life and the realm of production there is no ideology. Nor, of course, any ghosts.

Marx's account of ideology is undeniably an attempt at demystification, an attempt to dissolve the distortions of social relations and of intercourse(Verkehr) between individuals. Marx regularly uses this term Verkehr in order to underscore relation in both its productive and communicative aspects. And when he speaks of illusions he also makes use of metaphors, and ones with a venerable history, as for example, "the inversion of reality" in a cave. Permit me the "obvious" statement that metaphor as well as all the common figures of rhetoric are not absent from Marx's texts, far from it, his texts are a battleground of rhetorical figures. Marx is a master at marshaling a formidable array of tropes and marching them into battle. I'm not going to even attempt to delve into the question of the rhetorical modes of Marx's texts or of Marx's "style" or rather styles, since there is more than one, in different texts and quite often in the same text. I'm in over my head as it is. Anyway, the metaphor of "an inversion of reality" in a cave goes back a long way. The "owner" of this cave, one is told, was a rather crafty idealist with a theory about the power of ideas. Now, Marx's account of ideology in The German Ideology is not just about illusion, it is also about the power of ideas. Or more precisely, how ideas and ideology can take hold, take power, dominate. The question of domination is central to Marx's account of ideology. To dominate here has to be understood in two senses, more evident in the German word herrschend. It is a matter of dominating through exercising power but also by holding sway, reigning, extending universally.

In The German Ideology, ideology refers to the dominating class. The proletariat are entirely without it, they are outside ideology, pure of it, if you will. This last point is essential. It is from this point of view that Marx's account of ideology takes place. The German Ideology is considered to be Marx's clearest account of the proletariat as a Universal Class. But if one looks a little more closely, Marx does not present the proletariat as a class which would raise its particular interests in turn into universal interests, which would only be to repeat the process of mystification. Rather remarkably, we find Marx describing the proletariat not simply in terms of class but as a Masse, as a mass or as masses. But if it is not the proletariat's own proper particular interests which make it the bearer of change, transformation and revolution which Marx clearly considers it to be, what is it? It is precisely the proletariat's position outside of all ideology. The proletariat is eigentumslos (propertyless) and without any "particular quality" (Eigenschaft), and as such it is without illusions, absolutely Illusionslosigkeit. It is this extreme denuded position of the proletariat that is beyond ideology and without illusions that for Marx primes it for change and revolution. It is from this perspective or point of view that Marx can write in GI of a "real movement" that has nothing to do with the old order and abolishes it, and of the discovery - or promise - of "the language of real life" (Sprache des wirklichen Lebens).

It is not a matter of wondering why Marx does not consider or articulate a proletarian ideology. The matter rather is that if there is something like that, if the proletariat "has" ideology, well then the entire edifice constituting materialism in GI and its chain of equivalences between materiality, production, practice, history and revolution starts to give way, fall apart. Things, from this perspective, are not very different in The Communist Manifesto written the following year (1847). There again Marx writes of a proletariat which is totally Illusionslosigkeit and which has nothing to do with nation nor religion nor family nor morality nor political-juridical illusions. There again, as such, the proletariat is in the position of destroying the dominating class and its ideology and ending its reign. If in this process the proletariat is to become the dominant class in turn it is only to dissolve all classes and domination. Transparency of life and language and of intercourse. Such is the promise – of revolution. Exit ideology.

Enter 1848. Arrival of Revolution. 24 February in Paris. 13 March in Vienna. 18 March in Berlin. Le Printemps des peuples. The people will soon pay dearly for their springtime. In June, massacre of le peuple in the streets of Paris. A number of French socialists defect to bonapartism. Apathy of the proletariat faced with the coup d'état. Catastrophe. Instead of the dissolution of bourgeois power, one is confronted with the dissolution of the proletariat hope.

If the events of 1848-51 are a crushing blow for Marx, it is the measure of the man that he will face up to them and try to take their measure. Not the least of which is that Marx has to acknowledge and to confront the fact that the proletariat is not immune to ideology. The proletariat – the propertyless (eigentumslos) – somehow possesses or is possessed by ideology, which is not a little uncanny. Now, from this point on, the term of ideology virtually disappears from Marx's text. Which is not to say that the theme or its analysis does so. Even if not named, it is present everywhere in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1851), a text which is also about repetition and how the past can haunt the present. Here again, Marx attempts to account for the mystification and the power, the domination that past figures (whether nationalist or historical or religious, republican or imperial ) exercise on the present and on the actors of 1848. Can it all be determined in terms of class interests? When Marx addresses the problem of the passage from the "class in itself" to the "class for itself" the very schematic of "two classes" splinters in a series of subdivisions. It would appear that in the time of revolution, when time "accelerates", classes decompose as well-defined entities defined by distinct and simple interests capable of finding direct political representation. Here again, when Marx speaks of revolutionary conflict and struggle he doesn't do so simply in terms of class, but rather in terms of masses, of mass movements. Marx doesn't say "classes make history" but that "masses (or men en masse) make history."

Let me quote a famous passage from the The Eighteenth Brumaire:

"Thus Luther donned the mask of the Apostle Paul, the revolution of 1789 to 1814 draped itself alternately as the Roman Republic and as the Roman Empire, and the revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, now 1789, now the revolutionary tradition of 1793 to 1795. In like manner a beginner who has learnt a new language always translates it back into his mother tongue, but he has assimilated the spirit of the new language and can freely express himself in only when he finds his way in it without recalling the old and forgets the native tongue in the use of the new."

Here again we find the question of revolution related to a "new" language, the language of real life of which The German Ideology spoke or promised. In order to learn to use this new language and to properly appropriate its spirit as the spirit of revolution, why is it necessary to forget and efface the maternal, the mother tongue?

After 1848, Marx's main project is of course the immense research that goes into the writing of Capital. In this text the question of ideology is reworked in terms of the famous analysis of the commodity fetish and its "theological niceties". Here again one finds the theme of domination, of the market subjecting everyone and everything to its reign and power. And one finds that the enigma, the secret, the mystery, the mystification it would appear is all on one side, the side of commodity value and the famous turning and dancing table. Use value is apparently pure of such craziness. From whose point of view, one might wonder? The properties (Eigenschaften) of the thing of use-value relate to man, to what is proper to man and his needs. But what exactly is proper to man?

There is a famous scene where Marx wonders what the commodity-value would say, if it could speak. "If commodities could speak, they would say this: our use-value may interest men, but it does not belong to us as objects. What does belong to us as objects, however, is our value. Our own intercourse (Unser eigner Verkehr) as commodities proves it. We relate to each other merely as exchange-values." Marx does not say what use-value would say, if it could speak. And, I wonder how a dialogue between use-value and commodity-value would go?

But, taking our cue from Marx, let us try and think what use-value would say, if it could speak. Would it say, "take me, I'm yours"? Is that what the bit of wood, the little piece of nature would say? Or would she be silent, keep her secret to herself? Phusis kruptesthai philei . Or would she lament.

"...all nature would begin to lament if it were endowed with language (though 'to endow with language' is more than 'make able to speak'). This proposition has a double meaning. It means, first, that she would lament language itself. Speechlessness: that is the great sorrow of nature.[...] This proposition means, second, that she would lament. Lament, however, is the most undifferentiated, impotent expression of language. It contains scarcely more than the sensuous breath..."
(Walter Benjamin, On Language as Such and on the Language of Man, 1916)

After almost twenty years of immense unremitting research and writing, the first volume of Capital is published in 1867. The Workers Bible, as Engels calls it. A text that can also be read as an attempt to account for 1848. Then comes 1870, and the Franco-Prussian war. And 18 March 1871, the Paris Commune, or more simply La Commune. Ah, Vive la Commune! Alexis de Tocqueville recounts in a letter how a certain Thiers had proposed to the National Assembly in 1848 that they wipe out le peuple de Paris. This time, the butcher Thiers will not let the opportunity go by. The semaine sanglante is unsparing and is followed by massive deportations. Marx does respond with memorable pages devoted to the Paris Commune. But he has to acknowledge that once again events have not followed the directing forces and conflicts of history and politics as he had envisaged them. Once again, there are passions and other factors that cannot simply be reduced to the class struggle. And if revolution took place in France rather than Britain, this didn't quite follow the "logic" of it occurring from a crisis in capitalist accumulation. The writing of Capital is suspended in the midst of a chapter on "classes", and Marx will attempt to begin again. After the destruction of the Commune and the dissolution of the International, what response did Marx have to the question of "historical change"? After 1870 as in 1848, Marx has to acknowledge that history cannot simply be thought in terms of imminence or progressive maturation, as there is an irreducibly unforeseen and unexpected aspect to what comes to pass, arrives. In other terms, there is a non-contemporaneity to historical time, the time is out-of-joint.

So let me simply ask this. If we acknowledge that these questions of ideology, of historical change and time, remain for Marx insistent, open-ended questions that he takes up again and again, then it seems to me difficult to argue that Derrida in Spectres de Marx is somehow dismissing or mystifying Marx. On the contrary, it is precisely these questions that he attempts to renew and re-think. And if one were to say that these questions are of secondary importance for Marx, this would be, it seems to me, to dismiss and mystify a great deal of Marx and of the history in which his thinking is inscribed and to which it responds.

To say that there is no pure exit from ideology, which would be the ultimate ideological ruse, is not to reduce everything to it but to mark it as a site of conflict and struggle. As is history and the language of real life.

I have been suggesting that 1848 was "decisive" for Marx. Let me just point out that in Spectres, Derrida explicitly "links" the "New International" to 1848: " La 'nouvelle Internationale'[...] C'est un lien d'affinité, de souffrance et d'espérance, un lien encore discret, presque secret, comme autour de 1848".

But this is not say, of course, that there are no differences between Marx and Derrida. Let me refer to just one of them. It relates to Marx's phrase, "let the dead bury the dead." As one knows, this is a phrase that Marx uses more than once, in his texts and in his letters. Derrida does not follow Marx in this, but insists that one must [il faut] not let the dead bury the dead. I was reminded of the weight and justice of Derrida's insisting on this by a recent post here at Limited, Inc I am also reminded of a woman who wrote in Marx's mother tongue and who, in the wake of the Second World War when apparently all the horrors and crimes and ghosts had been laid to rest and all was sweetness and light, was not finished with mourning and the dead and crimes in the present. "I've often wondered, and perhaps it has passed through your minds as well, just where the virus of crime escaped to – it cannot simply had disappeared from our world twenty years ago just because murder is no longer praised[...] Indeed, I maintain and will attempt to produce the first evidence that still today many people do not die but are murdered."( Ingeborg Bachmann, The Book of Franza, 1966)

The phrase, let the dead bury the dead, occurs in a very famous passage in The Eighteenth Brumaire: "In order to arrive at its own content the revolution of the nineteenth century must let the dead bury the dead." This seems to me a terrible price to pay in order to arrive at one's own content. Call me weak for saying so. I will accept and even affirm such "weakness". But, let me ask, is this even possible, does one arrive at one's own content in this way? For what if this phrase, this very phrase which claims to break free of the past, to arrive to its own time and seize the day, is a repetition of the past and more than once and more than one time.

I can think of at least two. There might be others. One is Christ who repeats the phrase twice (Matthew 8:22, Luke 9.60). I am not going to explore this repetition here, except to note that here is another instance of the Messianic in Marx's text. No, Derrida didn't somehow invent or import it into Marx's text.

For there is an even older repetition and it goes back to an "inaugural" text of the "West": Pericles' Funeral Oration. There one finds the interdiction of mourning, an interdiction which is directed at women. There one finds the valorization of strength and hardness, and softness is called an Oriental vice.

Why is it, I wonder, that a certain marxist materialism valorizes strength and hardness, lays claim to it, claims it for its own? And why is it so bothered by others, such as Derrida or Benjamin who are not afraid of weakness and even affirm it. Perhaps there is an indominatable strength of weakness? To recall the past, to call a revenant so that it comes from the future – an arrivant.

Do you believe in the life to come?

Mine was always that.


Unknown said...

This is wonderful, Amie.

Roger Gathmann said...

I agree with Praxis.

One of the things that your exposition helps me understand a bit more is Marx's own position. It is a puzzle. He doesn't present himself as a witness. Unlike with Freud, we get no self analysis that leads to a body of doctrine. Rather, we get a doctrine that seems to put persons in Marx's own social position in the position of being prisoners of the ruling ideas - and that this prison is an almost insurmountable one is emphasized by his metaphor of the retina.

But I had not really thought of the 'masses' as being 'without illusions'. If there is a social position in which one can be without illusions, it makes it much more plausible that one can be in a social position to see through illusions.

Yet, of course, Marx didn't just see through illusions - he saw through them systematically. He didn't just, by an act of empathy, understand that the working class was exploited, he understood how exploitation figured in the creation of the whole social world he saw around him. 1848 would show that being without illusions and seeing through illusions is a false pairing. And that, of course, throws up the problem of Marx's position once again.

I guess I am interested in this question partly because Levi-Strauss brings it up in his introduction to Mauss's work - what is the position of the anthropologist vis a vis a society he is studying. How does one go from being a participant observer to making the kind of systematic inferences that describe the whole culture. What is extraordinary in Marx's case is that his justification came, in a sense, after his systematic insight. He only really understands the way capitalism functions - the system he wants to overthrow in the 1840s - by the 1860s. And even then the understanding is, as you point out, incomplete, as it must be - there must be a revolutionary opening, so to speak, into the system to justify Marx's own witness.

Or is that right?

Roger Gathmann said...

Hmm, not enough comment on this fantastic piece of writing. Maybe I'll eliminate my tedious intro. Goddamn it, I hate it when something good pops up here on LI and it gains less of a readership than some toss off about Lady Bitch Ray! Am I to be eternally on the losing side of the tug of war between testosterone and the neocortex as the seas creep over the land and the icecaps melt?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I'm dead or alive.

Roger Gathmann said...

Amie, your comment is like my day.

I was reading outside of the Whole foods today when two people came up to me and asked me if they could give me a spiritual quiz. They introduced themselves as college affiliated, but I figure they were affiliated with some church. But, being in the mood for conversation about my spiritual state, I let them do their spiel, which consisted of giving me a pack of pictures and asking me questions about myself - like, what three pictures represented my life right now. Etc., etc. So, we did the picture raffle with my life, and then one of them, the younger one, posed the question they'd obviously been leading up to, which was, if I died tonight, what would I say to God to get into heaven? So, making up theology on the spot, I said, God has no choice but to let me into heaven. I'm in heaven now. Heaven isn't a matter for God to choose. Which certainly sort of muddied the lines for these boys. But, thinking about it afterwards, I was rather disappointed that I didn't mention that myself, being in the image of God, could as little go to hell as God could uncreate himself. All of which sounds true! on a lazy theological afternoon. Because maybe I could have founded my own cult right there and then, like Hazel Motes in Wise Blood. Or at least founded a Gnostic-Borgesian heresy. I'll call it Heaven Now - I think Heaven's gate is taken..

Although actually, if I die tonight and come before the Divinity's throne, I have no idea how snappy my repartee would be. I'd hope to be as much of a wisecracker as Philip Marlowe, but I might be another dumb tonguetied American, asking for a raise.

northanger said...

what does Fini, c'est fini, ça va finir, ça va peut-étre finir.(un temps.) mean?

northanger said...

and it better not mean "dumb tonguetied American, asking for a raise"!

i have a migraine & must go get victuals (luckily, not by piracy, there's money in the bank account!). then i will come back & say something numerical here.

Roger Gathmann said...

Here's the play, all in the lovely first language of Mr. Beckett.

Roger Gathmann said...

And, though I couldn't find the Youtubery with that passage from the endgame, I did find Beckett's guide to Illusionslosigkeit. Except not. Who can tell about these things. You think you have divested yourself of every scrap of illusion, and then who knows? what narcissism still lurks in the burial urn.
And maybe not to be watched while the migraine lasts.

Dominic said...

It is probably a good idea not to confuse:

a) The intellectual defeat of dogmatic marxism (vengeful spirits come to settle accounts and rewrite history, like Rambo in Vietnam, notwithstanding). Derrida upholds this, deepens it even - (a certain) Marx contra (a certain) marxism.


b) The triumph of neo-liberalism, the "new left", the "new right", and the hasty establishment of a jury-rigged consensus against any manifestation of the communist hypothesis whatsoever. Derrida diagnoses this, protests it, declares its omissions and falsifications: (a certain) Marx contra (a certain) anti-communism.

LCC's trouble is that she can't tell her enemies apart.

Roger Gathmann said...

Dominic, I don't think Chabert feels the same way you do about dogmatic Marxism - that it is some automatically bad thing. I think she knows who her enemies are. Her posts outline what I'd call rational choice Marxism. You take as your criteria the level of exploitation, and you use that to determine how the sides line up. The appendix to this notion is a form of self-interest in which the individual academic entrepreneur gains points from the ruling class (points being publicity, tenure, students, etc.) for either defending the ruling class outright or weakening the resistance to the ruling class. There's a certainty about this, and an elegance in the model, that is much like the elegance of neo-classical rational choice theory itself. I just think it is wrong. I also think it is a reading that is forced to overlook the all too numerous moments in Marx's own writing that deviate from rational choice, as per Amie's post. In fact, I'd go out on a limb and say that all of Marx's political writing deviates from the Marxist rational choice model. And I'd say that even in Capital there is an intense pull between, on the one hand, this rather attractive model, and on the other hand, Marx's much more complex vision of a social reality in which social revolution exists as a real possibility. And as such, it is our starting point for understanding social processes.

Roger Gathmann said...

PS -hmm, I don't quite think it is wrong. Marxist rational choice can be a very enlightening model. I think it is a self-limiting heuristic, however.

Anonymous said...

well, apparently I'm not quite dead yet. LI, I do want to respond to your comment above about witnessing and the participant observer. It is a great question, and one I can't do justice to right now, as I'm a bit rushed for time.
But hey can I indulge in a few pics from my native land, where some demonstrations are going on today and where my "spirit" is a wandering.,12-0@2-3224,31-1045613@51-1013456,0.html

northanger said...

AO 108 = A FICTION TO TRANSCEND CAPITALISM (To summarize my interpretation of k-punk's masterful analysis of a recent talk held by Zizek and Badiou concerning the ideas of capitalism, populism, and the use of fictions to enact change (see also here and here [AO-172 LEFT HYPERSTITION 1: THE FICTIONS OF CAPITAL, AO-204 LEFT HYPERSTITION 2: BE UNREALISTIC, CHANGE WHAT'S POSSIBLE]), the future of the Left lies in creating an alluring counter-fiction to the seductive appeal of capitalist commodity fetishism. It is not enough to expose the lies and exploitation of corporate liberalism (a "politics of truth" which has failed to gain any ground), we must install an alternative belief system and compelling means of being-in-the-world, a "fiction" to which we commit our lives. What might this post-capitalist fiction be?; AO-53 NATION OF REBELS, AO-131 WHY COUNTERCULTURE BECAME CONSUMER CULTURE, AO-202 FICTION IS NOT TO BE TRUSTED BY OFFICIAL PHILOSOPHY) = THE ART OF COMPUTER PROGRAMMING (AO-56 FIBONACCI NUMBER) = TOWARD THE PURIFICATION OF WAR (AO-73 AD BELLUM PURIFICANDUM).


AO 83 = CURSOR OPTIMIZATION (AO-15 CURSES, AO-15 TUI, AO-24 UNIX, AO-60 TEXT USER INTERFACE) = PROPOSITION III (The exteriority of the war machine is also attested to by epistemology, which intimates the existence and perpetuation of a "nomad" or "minor science"; AO-53 A THOUSAND PLATEAUS).

AO 124 = THE UNIQUE ONE AND HIS PROPERTY = THE ETERNAL, THE IDENTICAL, THE CONSTANT (There is a kind of science, or treatment of science, that seems very difficult to classify, whose history is even difficult to follow. What we are referring to are not "technologies" in the usual sense of the term. But neither are they "sciences" in the royal or legal sense established by history. According to a recent book by Michel Serres, both the atomic physics of Democritus and Lucretius and the geometry of Archimedes are marked by it.[16] The characteristics of this kind of eccentric science would seem to be the following: ¶ 1. First of all, it uses a hydraulic model, rather than being a theory of solids treating fluids as a special case; ancient atomism is inseparable from flows, and flux is reality itself, or consistency. ¶ 2. The model in question is one of becoming and heterogeneity, as opposed to the stable, the eternal, the identical, the constant. It is a "paradox" to make becoming itself a model, and no longer a secondary characteristic, a copy; in the "Timaeus", Plato raises this possibility, but only in order to exclude it and conjure it away in the name of royal science. By contrast, in atomism, just such a model of heterogeneity, and of passage or becoming in the heterogeneous, is furnished by the famed declination of the atom. The "clinamen", as the minimum angle, has meaning only between a straight line and a curve, the curve and its tangent, and constitutes the original curvature of the movement of the atom. The clinamen is the smallest angle by which an atom deviates from a straight path.[17] It is a passage to the limit, an exhaustion, a paradoxical "exhaustive" model. The same applies to Archimedean geometry, in which the straight line, defined as "the shortest path between two points," is just a way of defining the length of a curve in a predifferential calculus. &c; AO-37 NOMAD NUMBER, AO-53 A THOUSAND PLATEAUS, AO-83 PROPOSITION III, AO-107 1227: TREATISE ON NOMADOLOGY).



Le Colonel Chabert said...

"for it is, after all, one of the major themes in the Specters – those ghosts from the “superstitious” past that must be chased away in the name of science."

I didn't skip it! You just don't want to address that "negroidity".

Derrida, like Heidegger, believed in a mystical Europe, which invented science, but it simply. ain't. so.

" If we acknowledge that these questions of ideology, of historical change and time, remain for Marx insistent, open-ended questions that he takes up again and again, then it seems to me difficult to argue that Derrida in Spectres de Marx is somehow dismissing or mystifying Marx"

I think whether Derrida mystifies Marx is a question one could only form an opinion about based on the content of what Derrida wrote, not on the mere fact of his writing about Marx.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

I don't get the rational choice thing - what do you mean? This is some individualist notion, "everybody wants more" or something? It can't have any meaning in Marxism. You can't find out what everybody wants, there are too many people, it's just not interesting. You may want your coconut to have a zipper. If it doesn't, it doesn't, you have to try something else or leave it alone.

Anonymous said...

Some duel huh! Well, as I said, the set-up is no duel.

A couple of sketchy thoughts on your question re witnessing and the participant-observer, as the picture is more than what a sketch or a comment can cover.

You're of course right that Marx doesn't only empathize with the proletariat and its exploitation and misery, but attempts to systematically account for such, produce its account systematically. And Marx and Engels don't just speak of the proletariat as an "idea", there is this element of encountering and witnessing. As Engels says in the Condition of the Working-Class in England ( a book that would have a formative impact on Marx ) - and I am quoting from memory - I have met workers who don't only want to be Englishmen but men.

An entire tradition of thought would call such witnessing "empirical", which of course raises all kinds of questions about its systemic account(ability). What exactly happens when Marx in The German Ideology makes such witnessing of the proletariat a point of view from which to construct an entire systemic account of ideology and one which is totally outside of the system it is to account for? (It is perhaps not so different with Levi-Struass?)

LI, as you say, Marx's testimony needs revolution to attest to it. There is an systematic account and there is the unaccountable, and one must bear witness to both. To bear witness is also one of Derrida's questions. To bear witness as in to undergo, carry, testify. And to give birth. To the child one bears, sometimes called revolution.

Anyway, let me switch tracks here, and go to a film I saw again just the other night, here in NYC, as part of a festival commemorating May 68 in France, Chris Marker's Le fond de l'air est rouge/Grin without a Cat. It is all about history, memory, testimony and the "impure impure history of ghosts" . I started this comment with wanting to talk about it, but an other time.



northanger said...









AO 84 = REFLEXIVE IMPOTENCE (Why are French students out on the streets rejecting neo-liberalism, while British students, whose situation is incomparably worse, resigned to their fate? The answer to that question is partly, also, an answer to why a group like the Arctic Monkeys connect with British teenagers. It is a matter not of apathy, nor of cynicism, but of reflexive impotence) = TYPED COMMUNICATIONS = RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN.






AO 67 = THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL (AO-30 SHERIDAN) = MCKIM, MEAD, AND WHITE (The best known architectural firm specializing in AO-42 BEAUX-ARTS STYLE was McKim, Mead, and White[7] Among universities designed in the Beaux-Arts style there are, most notably: Columbia University, (commissioned in 1896), designed by McKim, Mead, and White; the campus of MIT (commissioned in 1913), designed by William W. Bosworth, and the University of Texas (commissioned in 1931), designed by Paul Philippe Cret; AO-47 GRAND ARMY PLAZA, AO-57 BEAUX-ARTS MOVEMENT, AO-61 BEAUX-ARTS ARCHITECTURE).





northanger said...


AO 29 = STRUGGLE = LIBRA 20° = MDM FA2 CARD = PSALM 91:4 = TAURUS 21°.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

I'd like to duel! But there's nothing for me to respond to here really; I agree Marx writes about ideology; there are three uses of the term, one is ruling class ideology, one is political ideology, which can be "revolutionary", another is hazy. Derrida doesn't ever mention any of these things, except to say the first concept is invalid - that's just an assertion, no argument, in passing. He's concerned with what marx called "consciousness". Use value is human labour, a relation and a process, - it can speak. It's the only thing that can speak. Marx didn't say the proletariat were ideology free; on the contrary they participate in ruling class ideology like everybody else, but can have a critical perspective and will not themselves create a new ruling class ideology - present their exclusive class interests as universal - because they can't become a new ruling class, because they have no property and nobody to exploit. (Nonetheless there is, in capitalism, proletarian ideology distinct from the dominant ideology.) They have to abolish classes altogether; their capacity to do this is due to their power over social reproduction and their common interest in abolishing their own exploitation. Being "ideology free" in the sense of being freed from the illusions of bourgeois ideology - the dominant ideoology - is not the cause of a consequence that is revolution. For Marx there is a constant interplay; only through revolutionary activity and the abolition of capitalism will the proletariat (and everybody else) be freed of bourgeois ideology. Bourgeois ideology is not just "fancy"; conditions have to be changed, concrete existence, for ideas to change. Property relations have to change before ideas of justice change, though an intimation of others exists to spur change, it is not realised, it is not embodied, it is not meaningful until the new ideas can be practised and lived. Thinking is not idependent of every other feature of human life.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

I didn't say Derrida apologised for "the Nazis" - I was really specific. He apologises for certain specific Nazi policies, carried out by Heidegger, and the echoes of this apology are all over Spectres of Marx. What do you make of those echoes? How do you interpret the "spirit" which links them, the spiritualisation of Nazism Derrida praises as good will and rejection of nastiness, condemns as a blunder, and regards as having one really bad consequence which is not Nazism but far worse Cartesianism, and the spiritualisation of Marx he repeatedly advocates in Spectres? Does this say anything to you?

Le Colonel Chabert said...

Derrida, “ideology” and “spirit”:

Let’s look:

On the one hand, Heidegger…confers the most reassuring and elevated spiritual legitimacy on everything which, and in all before whom, he commits himself, on everything he thus sanctions and consecrates at such a height. One could say that he spiritualises National Socialism. And one could reproach him for this, as he will later reproach Nietzsche for having exalted the spirit of vengeance into a “spirit of vengeance spiritualised to the highest point.”

But on the other hand, by taking the risk of spiritualising Nazism, he might have been trying to absolve or save it by marking it with this affirmation (spirituality, science, questioning, etc..) By the same token, this sets apart [démarque] Heidegger’s commitment and breaks an affiliation. This address seems no longer to belong to simply to the “ideological” camp in which one appeals to obscure forces – forces which would not be spiritual but natural, biological, racial, according to anything but spiritual interpretation of “earth and blood”.

The force to which Heidegger appeals, and again in conclusion when he speaks of the destiny of the West, is thus a “spiritual force.” And we find this theme of spirit and of the West again, though displaced, in the text on Trakl.

What is the price of this strategy? Why does it fatally turn back against its “subject” – if one can use this word, as one must, in fact? Because one cannot demarcate oneself from biologism, from naturalism, from racism in its generic form, one cannot be opposed to them except by reinscribing spirit in the oppositional determination, by once again making it a unilaterality of subjectity, even if in its voluntarist form. The constraint of this program remains very strong, it reigns over the majority of discourses which, today and for a long times to come, state their opposition to racism, to totalitarianism, to Nazism, to fascism, etc, and do this in the name of spirit, and even of the freedom of (the) spirit, in the name of an axiomatic – for example, that of democracy or “human rights” – which, directly or not, comes back to this metaphysics of

….In the Rectorship Address, this risk is not just a risk run. If its program seems diabolical, it is because, without there being anything fortuitous in this, it capitalises on the worst, on both evils at once; the sanctioning of Nazism and the gesture that is still metaphysical. Behind the ruse of quotation marks of which there is never the right amount, (always too many or too few of them), this equivocation has to do with the fact that Geist is always haunted by its Geist: a spirit, or in other words, in French [and English] as in German, a phantom, always surprises by returning to be the other’s ventriloquist. Metaphysics always returns, I mean in th sense of a revenant [ghost], and Geist is the most fatal figure of this revenance [haunting, returning]. Of the double which can never be separated from the single.

Is this not what Heidegger will never finally be able to avoid, the unavoidable itself - spirit’s double, Geist as the Geist of Geist, spirit as spirit of the spirit which always comes with its double? Spirit is its double.

Now since Derrida in Spectres echoes this section, two paragraphs, copying it, its whole construction, I think we are more than justified in reading these together, even if Derrida’s own spirit-collecting from different texts of Marx were not already justification enough. I don’t think Spectres of Marx, and what Derrida is up to there, can even be begun to be understood ignoring the roots of the argument and the gestures, of the whole project and the politics, which is here, in the rectorship address and Derrida’s rather bizarre imputation of an intention to “absolve” driving what may seem diabolical in the risky resort to spirit.

(More important is his peculiar notion of "ideological", which has to be taken into account, so we can see Derrida does not think he is writing about ideology, that preoccupation of Marx' - except those passing personal denunciations of the party, class, the international, everything about Marxism, etc - in Spectres of Marx.)

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"I am not going to explore this repetition here, except to note that here is another instance of the Messianic in Marx's text. No, Derrida didn't somehow invent or import it into Marx's text."

I'm sure no one has ever denied the messianic rhetoric in Marx. Of course we know it is exhortation - the inevitability of communism (though, only if people organise, struggle, and indeed wage war to bring it about). It's not clear at all that this has anything to do with what derrida has to invent a word for - messiancity - and which plays a huge role in his text, with antecedents in the Heidegger book. The relation of Derrida's messianicity to Marx is obscure;moreover, Benjamin seems to be called in for the name and nothing more; this messianicty has no affinity to Benjamin, a fact which derrida himself underscored in his reply to his critics - it's not Benjamin's metaphor. Which is a metaphor, intertextual, summoning Luria and a whole topos for energy and detail; its openly inextricable from a revolutionary commitment, as is Marx' messianic theme.

You may not find the distinction an important one , but one of the most important distinctions for marx is the distinction between living labour (human beings - speaking use value) and dead labour (capital), because his aim is not to be a "great writer" writing a complex and arcane philosophical oeuvre that a hundred years later philosophers in capitalism will be mining for mysteries while billions of people lead horrible short lives, but to explain something clearly in order to contribution to the self- liberation the population of the world from poverty and exploitation. His analysis of class societies and capitalism in particular is geared to showing how capital is all tht accumulated suffering and pain, generation upon generation, and how people need no longer toil away so that a tiny minority can continue to accumulate their dead labour - their lives condemned to unfreedom and exploitation, thingified and alienated and expropriated - as property with which to continue to control and exploit them. This is the central topic of all of Marx' writings. It is the indispensible basis of everything - nothing he writes makes sense if you reject this. (I mean you can reject the goal, but not the sense of the text.) If one cannot accept this distinction, and its importance, there really can't be anything in Marx of interest, because it is the basis of all this thought, this distinction between living and dead labour, between human beings - who can and do speak, and Marx can't speak for them - and the private property which condemns them to toil.

So -maybe you're lot harder than you think.

Anonymous said...

I've been following this from Colonel Chabert's end, and I have to say this: she makes sense. Her criticisms of Derrida make sense. What Marx writes of use value and exchange value makes sense.

I'll be damned if I can figure out what the Derrida and the proponents of Spectres of Marx are trying to say—except that there is a "good" Marx who is OK and non-dogmatic, and you just have to ignore the critique of the capitalist mode of production and pay attention to these little doo-dads in the text. "Oh, looky, he said, 'first,' but if use-value is first, then..."

Why is a straight-forward, it's just-what's-there-on-the-goddamn page reading of the analysis of commodities and how wage labor is exploitation by capital—how is that dogmatic? Hasn't anybody here had a regular job and been told to think about how they can "add value" to their employers bottom line or else? Doesn't the description of how capitalism moves accumulated value from workers to owners ring true to anybody?

And this business about strength and hardness...Milton Friedman was a vicious hardass. Thomas Friedman, cheerleader for globalization, is a vicious hardass. Gordon Gecko in Wall Street when he said, "I don't make, I own," was articulating the credo of the capitalist mode of production: capital, accumulated dead labor, gets to call the shots and fuck the people who do the work, make the products. They're the losers. If simply saying that the Friedman/Friedman/Gecko viewpoint is vicious, illogical, and should be challenged makes you a bad guy/gal who "valorizes strength and hardness" then......

I can't remember who said it--maybe it was Benjamin--but IIRC, the phrase (translated, because I don't know German) was that there is tenderness only in the coarsest demand of socialism: namely, that no one should ever go hungry again. But people continue to go hungry because the prerogatives of capital are treated as if they were natural, and they're not. And when someone writes that some ghostly form of exchange value is already there in any commodity, I don't see them as being very helpful--except to give a "deep" explanation and justification for the Friedman/Friedman/Gecko POV.

Incidentally, I'd be perfectly happy with a social democratic state with good nat'l health, guranteed minimum wage that a body can live on, and a stiff progressive tax on income and capital gains. Those things don't transcend capital, but they go a long way to mitigating its ill effects. Getting beyond capitalism is the hard social problem for now and the foreseeable future. I don't think I'll see any progress beyond an ongoing battle for ameilorative policies in my lifetime.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

So For Derrida, Heidegger's "seeming" Nazism, the championing of a certain spirit of Nazism, was anti-Nazism in disguise - spiritualising nazism is battling "ideological" (concrete) Nazism, fighting Nazism, racism totalitarianism etc.. This helps us to understand the anti-Marxism of championing a certain spirit of Marx we find in Derrida, which is clearly modelled on this. Additionally we can note that the certain "spirit" of Nazism championed by Heidegger, according to Derrida, which he insists is no Nazism at all but anti-Nazism, and the certain "spirit" of Marx Derrida offers for allegiance, which is no Marxism at all but anti-Marxism, are identical - spirit the führer, "questioning", the will to know - just as, according to derrida, the substance, concrete Nazism, and concrete Marxism are the same, two names for "the Marxist blow".

It's one thing to hold this last to be true. That's something one expects to see evidence brought forward in support of. But it's another to perform all this as "a certain spirit of Marx", in the name of Marx, and as self-declared true son and heirto Marx. If there's nothing in "a certain spirit of Marx" that is peculiar to Marx - nothing that can't be found in Heidegger's certain spirit of Nazism - then it is just a ploy. And it seems like that's what it is, unless you believe Marx had some kind of monopoly on the will as will to know, questioning, perpetual self critique. (I think even attributing that to Marx is a bit exaggerated, critique for the sake of critique; Marx was a zealous chamion of critique of course but not unduly or in that kind of genre and isolation Derrida favours.)

Dominic said...

when someone writes that some ghostly form of exchange value is already there in any commodity, I don't see them as being very helpful--except to give a "deep" explanation and justification for the Friedman/Friedman/Gecko POV

Well, that's dogmatism all right. Either you affirm the hierarchies, or you're in league with the enemy (I mean, The Enemy).

northanger said...

AO 252 = 1×2×3×4×5 × 6×7×8×9×10 × 11×12×13×14×15 × 16×17×18×19 × 20×21×22×23×24×25×26 (AO-78 4.03291461 × 10^26, AO-78 HAJDU-CHENEY SYNDROME, AO-78 METAPHOR OF THE RETINA) = ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF MIRAGES, GREEN FLASHES, ATMOSPHERIC REFRACTION, ETC.


AO 216 = 3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5 = THE IDEAS OF THE RULING CLASS ARE IN EVERY EPOCH THE RULING IDEAS.







northanger said...



northanger said...



Roger Gathmann said...

Well, suddenly a lot of comments!

I'll let Amie speak of ideology. I would, however, like to address this odd notion: "Derrida, like Heidegger, believed in a mystical Europe, which invented science, but it simply. ain't. so."

LCC, one of the odder things in your posts about Derrida is the notion that Derrida is some kind of Eurocentric guy, as opposed to the man he is writing about. But I think you have, as Marx would say, perfectly inverted relations.

It is, as Derrida pointed out, a common element between Marx and Stirner that they are both against "superstition" - hence, when Marx makes a mocking reference to the Negerhaft - which, of course, is not a quote, but is, more interestingly, a borrowing of one of Stirner's terms in order to mock him, Derrida's point is not that Marx is a racist - his point is that both Stirner and Marx consider a certain Europe (one that, at this point, does not contain Germany) to be the end point of history - most advanced scientific-technological society, to which world history - from its oriental despotisms on down - is tending. Further, Marx wants Germany - a country that doesn't exist - to be part of that European whole. Which is why Marx retrospectively thinks that German intellectuals wasted their time protesting against the Napoleonic invasion.

This becomes very important in the metaphoric that Derrida addresses in Marx. And, in fact, you start out in the right place to look at that - in Saint Domingue. But this is where you put into operation the Marxist rational choice theory. This isn't, as you put it, individualistic - just like neo-cloassical rational choice, it operates on aggregates. Although the black rebels in Haiti made clear over and over again when they first rose up that they rejected the economic and legal theory of the revolution, these protests have no positivity, since Marxist history demands that they ally themselves with the proletariat, support the struggle of the bourgeoisie against royalty, and then overthrow the ensuing system of exploitation. That they had their own opinions about kings, which may well have been shaped in Africa, is too bad. Because ideology here only does a little - what we really want to know is who is making the profits, and then we have an x ray of the forces engaged and what they should be doing, whether they know it or not.

Actually, there is no more Eurocentric thought than that. It can be disguised by appeals to billions of hard working oppressed people, but it very casually dispenses with the way those billions of hard working oppressed people make sense of their own lives, which, after all, consists in beliefs in ghosts and other such nonsense.

I actually understand and have some sympathy for what I'm calling Marxist rational choice - the notion derived from the fact that material interests define classes - but I don't at all see how it can be consistent with opposing Yerup or Europe. Whether Marx was right or wrong to think Europe had the most advanced scientific-technical system, he was certainly observant enough to see that the question was being solved not by theorists, but by gunboats. And though I think the heritage derived from his retrospective notion that the French invasion was just what Germany needed - Germany's Euro-fication - has been repulsive, still, in the conflict in Germany between those who longed for a non-European, Aryan Germany and those who, as Thomas Mann put it, wanted Germany to become France, I'm definitely on the side of the latter. However, it is a question in which the sides tend to slip out from under one. For instance, consider the British in India. In the classic utilitarian period, the British do the Eurocentric thing - they impose property laws on India that cut across centuries old traditions, and they demand money payment in taxes in order to effect the monetization of the economy. But after the Indian war of Independence in 1857, they stop. And then they become very non-Eurocentric. They suddenly discover the virtue of the village commune, and the Vedic religion, with its castes. As Maria Misra shows, this discovery of "age old" castes was certainly appreciated by the Brahmins, but was pretty much a historical romance, which, pleasingly enough for the Brits, created bitter divisions throughout india and generated an increasingly racist ideology that was met, by the Tamils, with their own racist ideology.

The upshot here being one of pluralism - there is no one theory that will lead anyone through these situations. That is why I think there is useful information to be gained by understanding the material interests of the "classes" in the old fashioned Marxist way, but it certainly no longer enough to say that, in the final instance, to use Engels phrase, they are determinant. They aren't.

Roger Gathmann said...

I should add - because this is all so Marxocentric - that the liberal case against Europ-ification in the early nineteenth century was beautifully put in Benjamin Constant's excellent essay "De l'esprit de conquête et l'usurpation (1813). Constant, after all, was exiled in Germany - and, against the notion that Napoleon was bringing civilisation to the Germans, which was Marx's view, in the 1840s, Constant observed the effect of the violation of the "forms" - of the legal structure, in order to create a new techno-scientific structure, an enlightened structure.

Which is, to make the point again, an assumption shared by Stirner and Marx - this notion of the progress of the train of world history, which gets out at the European station.

And here we should bring in the Specter of Engels, who, much less than his famous pal, was a lot more sensitive to the sheer injustice encoded in taking the telos of the scientific-industrial system for granted. It is no accident that Engels is much more open to the new science of ethnography than Marx was.

Roger Gathmann said...

Oops. This phrase makes no sense:
"who, much less than his famous pal, was a lot more sensitive"

It should just be: Engels who, more than his pal Marx, was sensitive to...

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"LCC, one of the odder things in your posts about Derrida is the notion that Derrida is some kind of Eurocentric guy, as opposed to the man he is writing about. But I think you have, as Marx would say, perfectly inverted relations.

No - Marx didn't believe in Europe; he was nonetheless Eurocentric, this is inescapable, but attempting already the critique. Derrida reverses this, in Spectres, in his backing of "negroidity" and "mongoloidity" as concepts like any other, but elsewhere he has affirmed, in l'autre cap, in interviews, the "greco-european adventure".

Marx is Eurocentric but not as you claim. For one thing, he did not, as Heidegger and Derrida do, speak of "the West" and the ideas of the west, or believe in this unity; class, not continent, was his association with ideology. That is, Marx knew peasants and merchants in China or Italy would have more in common with one another than either with emperors, and vice vera. He acknowledgs cultural differences, but he doesn't think the West is coherent, unique, or a category worth much. Mostly for him, "Europe" is geographical.

Marx writing in the 19th century, began to critique the Eurosupremacism that Derrida, at the end of the 20th, rehabilitates. In Spectres it's quite strongly evident - Stirner did not interest M and E because they respected it, but because they thought it pernicious, seriously harmful. One of its more harmful features is this hegel warmed over to justify British imperialism.

Interestingly, Marx did say that imperialism would shatter superstitutions about the chinese emperor - but not because, as Derrida would have it, there is "europeanisation" - the original thought of europe, Plato and Kant, being carred into china in cannonballs, but because a disruption in Chnese society of this sort must have a reaction from the Chinese just as from any other people; merchants must react just as they would anywhere else to the situation foisted on them by British aggression.

Which is not say Marx isn't Eurocentric, and Orientalist as well; I think Said shows very well the inescapability of the discourse; but Marx was never an advovate of the Hedieggerian Derridean "the west", this notion that some unique reason and rationality was invented by an entity Europe; the whole oeuvre of Marx is devoted to showing the divisions within such an entity that makes speaking of it like Heidegger and Derrida do an absurdity.

"Caught between US hegemony and the rising power of China and Arab/Muslim theocracy, Europe has a unique responsibility. I am hardly thought of as a Eurocentric intellectual; these past 40 years, I have more often been accused of the opposite. But I do believe, without the slightest sense of European nationalism or much confidence in the European Union as we currently know it, that we must fight for what the word Europe means today. This includes our Enlightenment heritage, and also an awareness and regretful acceptance of the totalitarian, genocidal and colonialist crimes of the past. Europe’s heritage is irreplaceable and vital for the future of the world. We must fight to hold on to it. "

A lot of disclaimers, I don't mean it that way...still, there's Europe that is nothing other than the achievements of its intellectuals and the regretted policies of its statemen; this is a figment, just the sort Marx attacks in Stirner, and derrida defends by manipulation there, not outright, because its too crass and crude, but the sympathy is evident in the lengths he goes to whitewash that text and render Marx and E's acharnement strange.

The writers of the 20th century elaborting on Marx' beginnings in the critique of eurosupremacism and eurcentrism (from within a discourse inescapably imprisoned in the latter nonetheless), wrote things like "There is no document of civilization that is not simultaneously a document of barbarism'; that covers civilisation globally, and is very far from Derrida's eurocentrism and mincing around and from his suggestion that Europe is the name of self-critique, of this same "certain spirit" of Nazism/Marx. One could say Derrida spiritualises Europe, and one could reproach him for that...

"This becomes very important in the metaphoric that Derrida addresses in Marx. And, in fact, you start out in the right place to look at that - in Saint Domingue. "

Isn't it interesting then that derrida says not a word about any of this, while Marx does directly address it - the absurdity of just the hegelian/stirnerian views you are attributing to him? Marx notices the problem, in Stirner; the specific issue of the yeromanufacture and the resulting yerosupremacism - Derrida denies it exists, and treats those tropes of which it is fashioned as abstractions like any other, with no specific ideological significance. If that's not eurocentrism, what is?

Germany is in Europe, this word does have a geographical meaning, it a literal meaning, and that is how Marx' uses it. It's not a metaphor for "enlightenment" and land of reason and the problematic upon which nazism true greatness is founded. That's a false problem, Derrida's and Heidegger's technological determinist conception, from Marx' point of view. (you can agree with them over Marx; the point is to recognise the distinction, what the issue is, and that one creates as spiritual yerup the other cannot recognise). Germany also has a meaning, without being a nation state, as does "maghreb". It's literal (For Derrida, certain virtues and reason is Europe wherever it is to be found.) But why a hundred and fifty years later does derrida sweep these questions under the rug when addressing one of Marx' most direct texts about them? Why does he believe in a disembodied Europe, self-evident? Repeatedly Marx discusses how colonised people's revolts impact the ruling class in the core, acknowledging that class struggle is global; Derrida never acknowledges this - in that apartheid essay he stated unambiguously that the fate of south africans would be decided by the outcome of the disagreements between factions of the ruling class and intellectuals in Europe, "we" whom he treats as representing and embodying Europe (all the hundred million caveats leaving the representation and embodiment more stable and intense than before) the inheritors of the certain spirit of our Great Minds, to which gallery it is "necessary" to add "a certain Marx". I think it would be interesting to directly compare everything Marx wrote about, say, counties in Asia, and history, to Derrida. There's a lot of description of Marx here that's just inaccurate I think; also of Derrida. A phrase quoted here and there, an allusion, it's for me not persuasive - this kind of account. Marx has a fairly coherent view about the relations of the bourgeoisie in imperial european countries to the colonised and exploited, this conception has a lot already of a real critique of a eurocentrism and racism for which there was a lack of vocab even to discuss. Derrida has a paternalist posture, and despite the wealth of vocabulary available for him, nothing to say. Even when addressing Heidegger and spirit.

Anyway, Marx rejected that Hegel/stirner timeline and spiral of history you are attributing to his work; he rejected it repeatedly; he did consider the imperial core the "most advanced"; he was a man of the 19th century; he did believe the formal freedom and socialisation of labour through markets and "growth of the productive forces" necessary for the communism he envisioned now possible (thus haunting Europe) as never before, globally. But this does not place the workers of less developed regions outside history - they are in the current moment like everyone else, in specific positions in global arrangements, possessed of powers, this is why his idea of revolutionary communism was international. There are certainly all these things in Marx about a material development - opf means but also relations of production, of the developent of "the individual", of formal liberties, the connection of propertylessness and communal social production to a possible communism which could not otheriwse. But this is not "enlightenment saves the world", not the "greco-european adventure", not the "new international" of bureaucrats and intellectuals, nor "european values" to be cherished, european "errors" regretted - he didn't, like Heidegger and derrida, see things this way, the question of "modernity"....

Le Colonel Chabert said...

Let's talk about that "negroidity" passage in Spectres. I don't know how you're reading it. It's the only mention, and extremely deceptive, of this principal argument of the Stirner text which Marx is subjecting to critique. It is a key term of Stirner's rehashed hegelian "philosophy of history". What do you make of Derrida's treatment of this term and "concept"? The other thing - you're objecting to my view of his use of the opposition "naivety" and "cynicism". Okay, but what do you make of that? You're not claiming this isn't there, that I have planted the words, this theme, in the texts, so, what's it all about then, as you see it? Nothing? Filler? Gibberish?

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"when someone writes that some ghostly form of exchange value is already there in any commodity, I don't see them as being very helpful--except to give a "deep" explanation and justification for the Friedman/Friedman/Gecko POV

Well, that's dogmatism all right. Either you affirm the hierarchies, or you're in league with the enemy (I mean, The Enemy)."

dominic, that's not dogmatism, he said, the assertion that "some ghostly form of exchange value is already there in any commodity", being untrue, doesn't do any good except for those people whose property it justifies. This is pretty straightforward; if you think it's false, what you wxould have to do to convince anyone who didn"t just shrivel up when somebody sucks their teeth and says "dogma!" is either show how the judgement about commodities is true or give an example of some purpose it could have, even if false, apart from the (obvious) justification of capitalist private property. Otherwise you've really just conceded - if this label and not very convincing lampoon is the only response you have to that assessment - that you really can't think of any reason to disagree with it, and just don't like it, rather than actually have some considered objection with grounds etc.

Anonymous said...

Hey there Colonel, thank you for honoring me with a response. Even if it is under the sign of utter condescension, for as you say "there is nothing for me to respond to here really". Then follows the Colonel's customary barrage. Funny how that works!

But in all the thunder etc., you haven't really responded to the question I was trying to address in my little post which is trying to trace the history of "ideology" in Marx's text and its relation to history. To which you respond with this purple passage
"I agree Marx writes about ideology; there are three uses of the term, one is ruling class ideology, one is political ideology, which can be "revolutionary", another is hazy."
Could you unpack this for this foot soldier who has no idea what you are talking about here?

Le Colonel Chabert said...

although I would say marx says a ghostly potential for exchange value is htere in any use value, that is, use values all have something in common, that they are human labour, externalised. but this is not what Derrida asserts, he asserts that exchange value, which Marx says is what human labour produces as well as use value in in conditions of generalised exchange (also produced by people) is the "fate" of things because of their iterability. That is, he removes the necessity of private property and propertyless people from commodification and simultaneously endows all things with it, ownability, as a instrinsic properties of things. If he's just saying something has to exist to be owned, it's a banality, assumed of course by Marx. But he is saying more - that use value is impure and therefore is not use value, that is, he is suggesting that use value ought to be "pure", that is, it ought to be celestial, but it is earthly, and from this he directly concludes, with stunning irrationality, that therefore capital can never be abolished. It's extremely bizarre and unconvincing, and additionally the text which conveys it is "dogmatic":

characterized by or given to the expression of opinions very strongly or positively as if they were facts

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"there is nothing for me to respond to here really"

I meant you didn't actually address anything I wrote; then you expressed disappointment at my non duellish response, so I responded to what you wrote, as best I could, though it was all I assume entirely predictable and ahd almost to do with derrida's text, the purported topic, that I can see.

"Could you unpack this for this foot soldier who has no idea what you are talking about here?"

Yes sure I can, Amie. Just as you can answer the questions I asked you, and say what you make of the echoes of Of Spirit in Spectres, even without being asked to "unpack".

Le Colonel Chabert said...

Can you unpack this, amie: "that Derrida is a shorter Charles de Gaulle and an apologist for the Nazis"? I could.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

(I will not claim to have "no idea what you mean". Passive aggression is way to hard for me.)

Anonymous said...

LCC, aaaargh, you know I am fond of you! I honestly do not understand your above remark about "ideology". And I do not follow your take on Derrida either, who I also happen to be fond of.


Roger Gathmann said...

LCC, we begin with opposite visions and opposite notions of the “teams” here. Far from the team being Stirner-Heidegger-Derrida vs. Marx, I see the team as completely opposite – Derrida in opposition to Stirner-Marx-Heidegger, the latter two as the great critics of the industrial-technical-market system invented in (and in that invention co-extensive with) the “spirit” of Europe. Far from not believing in Europe, Marx absorbed the version of history, as produced most notably by the group associated with the Edinburgh Enlightenment – Smith, Robertson, Mill – and reproduces it in the German Ideology. As for Germany being part of Europe – again, I’d disagree with you, and in fact am surprised you’d say that. In Germany, there was a debate about being part or not part of Europe that was as overt as the debate in Russia. In fact, it is with reference to that debate that Heidegger – who would fall on the anti-European side – creates his grand scheme in which technological rationalism and the forgetting of being mark the deviation that makes Europe what it is. Marx falls on the other side – but Derrida contends that both parties hold to a sense of what the spirit of Europe is, what it entails. When you write: Marx knew peasants and merchants in China or Italy would have more in common with one another than either with emperors, and vice versa – that is the spirit of Europe speaking. That’s the enlightenment. That comes, not from the peasants of China, but from what they ought to think, if they consulted their material interests. In fact, over its history, the peasants of China have fought for many things, sometimes against those peasants of Italy – who, after all, are benefiting from smuggling the secrets of the silk trade out of China – sometimes against the emperor, sometimes for the emperor. In the same gesture in which you denounce Derrida for speaking of the West, you, of course, use a Western modality to capture Chinese culture within a universal that has no social existence. By which I mean that you cannot, using that as a guide, predict almost anything about the course of Chinese history. You can only give a notion of what the course of Chinese history should be like – which is why I call this the Marxist version of rational choice. It is, of course, very different from the history of the Italian peasants. It is animated by very different beliefs and structures than those of the Italian peasants. Or … I should say was. Capitalism is globalization – and those differences melt away as one system takes hold of them. Marx saw that was going to happen given the power of capitalism, and in that sense his Eurocentrism, his political support for the spirit of Europe, was realism. Which is why I am always suspicious of the Marxist attempt to cull the third world, looking for “resistance” – which is a way of assuming that positivity, difference between the Chinese peasants and their emperor, and the Italian peasants are illusory, or secondary.

So, our first disagreement is about the sides, how they line up, and the ordering principle that make up the “teams.” My contention is that if one has this sense that this is what the teams are about, then you have a different sense of what is happening in Derrida’s quoting Marx referencing Stirner’s remark on the negerhaft phase of civilization. Derrida is quoting this not to prove that Marx is a racist, but to show that the whole schemata of racism as we apply it today doesn’t exist for either Marx or Stirner.

So, what happens in Marx’s text? First, Marx, as a writer, recognizes that the question here is one of tone. Why does he mocking Stirner?

“If, like Hegel, one designs such a system for the first time, a system embracing the whole of history and the present-day world in all its scope, one cannot possibly do so without comprehensive, positive knowledge, without great energy and keen insight and without dealing at least in some passages with empirical history. On the other hand, if one is satisfied with exploiting an already existing pattern, transforming it for one’s “own” purposes and demonstrating this conception of one’s own by means of isolated examples (e.g., Negroes and Mongols, Catholics and Protestants, the French Revolution, etc.) — and this is precisely what our warrior against the holy does — then absolutely no knowledge of history is necessary. The result of all this exploitation inevitably becomes comic…”

Now, I think Marx is right here, and shows that he very consciously writing a text, in which it is legitimate to grab hold, so to speak, of the textuality. This joke is, secondly, not only a joke on Stirner from Stirner’s own mouth, but it is a repetition – and, as anybody who knows Marx knows, in a phrase that has become a cliché:

Hegel remarks somewhere[*] that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

Since doubles and the way to treat them are so important both in the German Ideology and in Specters of Marx, this isn’t a remark by the side. Mockery and its limits are, after all, in question in your questioning, LCC. And of course, one way of looking at cynicism is as a life style lived entirely under the sign of repetition – a repetition that renders everything that happens flat and sterile, as it is simply a re-occurrence, a copy, a farce. So if one is dealing in these things, whether as a writer at first hand or a critic at second hand – or, in Derrida’s case, as a critic of a critic – the cues for the genre in which this is being treated have to themselves be understood.

Then we come to the quotation Derrida plucks out. Marx is concerned with Stirner’s Hegelian interpretation of Christianity, that spiritualizes the world and de-spiritualizes it (a notion that is certainly alive today). This ‘role” fulfilled by Christianity in the unfolding of the spirit is opposed to both paganism and animism. Of course, Marx has begun the enterprise of the critique just at this point – by presenting his own notion of how history unfolds, in which the static element is always the system of production, and the dynamic element the social divisions resulting therefrom. Stirner, on the other hand, by treating history as a succession of stages of ideas, is treating history basically as a ghost play – one that leads to the revelation that there are no ghosts. Which is how we get to Marx’s phrase:

“Saint Max now begins to deal seriously with the “spirits” that are “offspring of the spirit” (p. 39), with the ghastliness [ghostliness – R.] of everything (p. 47). At any rate, he imagines so. Actually, however, he only substitutes [foists upon his former conception of history -R] a new name for his former conception of history according to which people were from the outset the representatives of general concepts. These general concepts appear here first of all in the Negroid form [negerhaften Zustanden – better, in the Negro situation - R] as objective spirits having for people the character of objects, and at this level are called spectres or — apparitions. The chief spectre is, of course, “man” himself, because, according to what has been previously said, people only exist for one another as representatives of a universal — essence, concept, the holy, the foreign, a the spirit — i.e., only as spectral persons, spectres, and because, according to Hegel’s Phänomenologie, page 25 and elsewhere, the spirit, insofar as for man it has the “form of thinghood”, is another man (see below about “the man”).”

Now, according to you, LCC this Negroid only appears as innocent fun – mockery of Stirner’s own conception. And yet, throughout, Marx is copying Stirner to turn his words against him. A ghost, for Marx and Stirner, is a ghost – or are you saying that Marx has a distinct concept of ghosts? They seem to be agreed upon the ghost, and the need to get rid of them, as Derrida notes. But we are to think that here, here Marx is appealing to a liberal audience that doesn’t yet exist, because of course, Marx would never be guilty of thinking that the African religions were mere superstitions – no, he saw through them, he saw that actually they were the overflow of the system of production, neither more nor less, and that, say, the slaves of Saint Domingue, if they were aware of their real interests, would stand with the proletariat in Paris. This revolution is for you – is the message.

Derrida doubts this:

“Perfid, bifid, the word Negro makes a double blow. On the one side, it denounces the confusion in which Stirner maintains the concept, more precisely, the presentation of the concept, the manner in which the concepts “enter into the scene” in intution: indetermination of a homogeneity, in the dark element of a nocturnal obscurity. The Negro state, it is thus, as some august avatar had said recently, the night in which all the cows are black. The insinuation of Marx unclenches a classic strategy: when one accuses someone of being too generous with generality and on top of that, too occupied, in the penumbra, with the phantom, one is tempted to conclude that here we have a crime of obscurantism, and even of occultism.”

Is Marx dancing around the notion, which began to undergird the colonialist enterprise, really, only in the 1870s, of a racist cultural progress? I think you are right that Derrida is too hasty – I don’t think the perfidity here is racist. Rather, the question here comes back to what you are correct to see as the formation – the mechanical putting together – of the European spirit. What is happening in Marx’s text is part of that machinery – the destruction of the peasant cultures in Europe, of rural idiocy, of which the overflow was the destruction of African cultural life, as much by the emancipators as by the slavers. It isn’t racism, but the erudite war against the savage that is at issue here, and the savages, as Voltaire noted, don’t just live outside the bounds of Christendom, but inside, too – just go to some village fifty miles outside of Paris and you will find them.

Well, that’s enough. Obviously, this is a duel between two completely different notions of what it means to work in the “spirit” of Europe. I understand exactly why you have made Derrida your target, LCC, but I disagree with how you interpret both what he is saying and the position of Marx.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

I mean, I think anyone can see here that I am trying to discuss this text, and you are playing obnoxious games and performing your bafflement.i responded here becase you appear to address me in the form of a provocation which includes a lie couched in the guise of a cute bit of sarcasm. It's very exhausting, as you know, to have to say, "you know amie, I did not say he was an apologist for the nazis, I am making a very specific case, with plentiful textual evidence, about the "spirit of marx" and the spiritualisation of marx, constructed as a deliberate and very exact echo from Of Spirit..." Yur bad faith is on display in your refusal to respond even though I have responded to you at length, not with personal insults but with quotes from Derrida and trying to demonstrate my point. To this you have no reply except "barrage! how typical!" What barrage? You just produce these silly insults, insinuations, the tough and meek, syng almost nothing about the matter supposedly at hand, persist though I'm obviously not inclined to insult you back, and then having failed to get insulted in return, you pretend you have been. you insult yourself, ignorant footsoldier, dramatising yourself as condescended to when you have not been at all - I'm tryng to discuss this book with you, as anyone can see.

Putting someone to work fending off feigned stupidity like "that Derrida is a shorter Charles de Gaulle and an apologist for the Nazis" and then complaining if they don't bit at first, I mean jeez. You know exactly what you are doing nd to respond to this post properly would require me to write a lengthy preamble just correcting your misrepresentations and rehashing what I have already written. I'd really rather discuss this even little seriously, but here I am now instead being oblged by you to explain that there was more than one Nazi? That derrida wrote a book about Heidegger, that it is legitimate to read derrida on ideology and spirit if you intend to make a case about his purported "rethinking" of ideology in Marx? If you can't assume that and move on to it, if instead you want me to write in this haloscan an exhaustive account of Marx' uses of the term ideology - you and I both know the texts - well, this may be fun for you, people do get off on that kind of manipulation, but it's a bore for me.

I'd honestly have preferred not to respond further than I did initially, which I sort of hesitated to do but didn't want to seem sniffy or soemthing - I have nothign interesting to say to this post; it desn't respond to me, and i actually have yet to decipher what it doesn't say but seems to insinuate about spectres of marx. I think it's assumptions are unfounded, but my name's at the top. So. But if asked twice, even in that already-youy-know-what-youy're-in-for way, "some duel!" I'll do my best, so I did. If you really want to consider yourself personally insulted and condescended to, because I disagree with you about Derrida and Marx, at least i think i do, you really don't say enough to judge, okay - I insult you. Fill in whatever form of it you wish, barrage, disdain. You can say I accused you of apologising for the Nazis if you like.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"Negroid only appears as innocent fun – mockery of Stirner’s own conception."

it's mockery but also he is using Stirner's definition of negroidity to show that it is Stirner projecting his own intellectual debilities onto imagnary "negroes", inventing negroes and negroidity to dump specific chraceristics on them he wishes to expell from himself, and here Marx is intuiting something about ideology that there is not really yet a way to discuss, but he is exposing it - how this ideology reproduces domination, arises from and produces domination in human relations, "reflect" (but not 'vulargaly one way') socially produced exploitation and domination, its real role in domination, not simply in "error", in just silly ideas. Silly ideas with a definite origin and definite convenience to certain interests. So in using "negroid" here Marx is not only exposing the racism as race making and hierarchising, frivolous puffing up of the caucasian causian as whicvh stirner identifies himself, but accounting for its origins -- it arises from the existing domination and justifies it in this complex way, to which the whole of idealism, of specific ideological concept manufacture, is necessary. It is like his choice of "fetishism" out of Hegel to describe the "religion" of "the most advanced", that is, he reverses Hegel's racist maneuvre, to undermine it, to undermine it's specific symbolic aggression against africans, but also to expose its logic and origins, its uses to capital.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"In Germany, there was a debate about being part or not part of Europe that was as overt as the debate in Russia."

its a debate about being part of Western Europe. Germany is "mitteleurope" throughout that period. It's never the east, which is is mapped by Russia and orthodoxy.

" Marx would never be guilty of thinking that the African religions were mere superstitions"

come on. you're not playing straight now. he thought all religions were superstitions, including the bourgeois secular religion of commodity fetishism. he didn't think african fetishes were any more despicable than london fetishes. They respond and correspond to a different life experience, they make sense of a different set of relations; no more and no less rational.

Roger Gathmann said...

Ah, LCC, we've gone around on this before - in brief, I am unconvinced by Marx's " intuition" here - "ideology reproduces domination, arises from and produces domination in human relations, "reflect" (but not 'vulgarly one way') socially produced exploitation and domination, its real role in domination, not simply in "error", in just silly ideas. Silly ideas with a definite origin and definite convenience to certain interests." I think the idea that the dominated are a blank slate doesn't make sense to me, unless you are saying that the mysterious origin of these ideas could be anywhere. It certainly doesn't track any historic study, at least in the 1840s, so it would have to be an intuition indeed. As a conjectural history, it seems to be constructed in such a way that it can't find out if it is true or not - especially if every racist utterance is immediately attributed to this system of domination, so that one can't ask - does it function in some positive way among the class of people, the peasants, the artisans, who are uttering it? Does it form a kind of solidarity? Does it advantage them?

However, re the passage, I think that you are not taking into account, as Derrida does, what the text says and how it says it and the effect of saying it. I don't see this reversion to Stirner's historical tableau in terms of a mockery that would only make sense for a non-existent audience, say one that has gone through the 1960s. You are, I think, projecting Marx's presumed anti-racism into the remark, based on your intuition about Marx's intuition.

On the other hand, you are, I think, right to see Derrida projecting on his own intuition here. It is as if racism were unitary and ahistorical, instead of having a very distinct history. Myself, given the period and the context, I interpret it much more in terms of the struggle that pitted an erudite culture, one that is scientific above all things, vs. a popular culture, dragged down in the first stage of de-mystification by being so fascinated with that stage that it doesn't see how anachronistic it is - Germany being "behind", in the Marxist schema.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"the slaves of Saint Domingue, if they were aware of their real interests, would stand with the proletariat in Paris"

why do you think slaves were not aware of their real interests? I know you are interested in Boukman's thing about the king, but you know that wasn't the first revolt on Saint Domingue. The previous revolt wasn't to restore the king - the king was in place. People revolt when they are enslaved - from Spartacus to Auschwitz. Whether it is "really" in the interests of people not to revolt when enslaved is not something anyone can say - people do it. It's common; it's predictable. And slaveowners always fight back, too. Like clockwork. Maybe everybody's confused, century after century, in the same way, about what they really want or really don't like, but so what? It's a pattern, you can't ignore it. People enslaved rising up, people who own them repressing these revolts. Again and again, same story.

Dominic said...

Circulation and exchange can take other forms besides those they take within a regime of commodification; they can take, for example, the form they take in gift exchange. But circulation and exchange in whatever form shift the object between value-schemes, detaching it from its value-in-use, and assigning to it a value-in-circulation (the value of the gift for example is not just that of the use it will find in the hands of the receiver, but something additional: the social, symbolic value of its being given). Iterability means that the object has no natural home in any one value-scheme, that it finds a home by circulating into place (so to speak).

Derrida is not asserting that the object is fated to become a commodity, being somehow cosmically already a commodity in its innermost being, but saying exactly what you would expect him to say about use value: that its conditions of possibility (the ability of the object to find a use, to be translated into the value-scheme of use value) are also its...oh, sod it, you can finish the sentence yourself.

In Marx there is an opposition: use-value vs exchange value. It's hierarchical: use-value comes first, exchange value is a subsequent modification, a translation of the object out of its rightful, original place into a regio dissimilitudinis. What Derrida says about this is a quite predictable variation on what he always says: that this translation would not be possible if the object were not iterable - that is (to shift jargons slightly), if it were not capable of appearing in more than one world. No-one but a dogmatic marxist (for whom all deviations were ultimately the same deviation) could possibly take this to mean that Derrida thinks that the object was destined from the outset to end up in the world of commodity exchange, as if the only way out of use-value was through the door marked "alienation".

Anonymous said...

Circulation and exchange can take other forms besides those they take within a regime of commodification; they can take, for example, the form they take in gift exchange.


But circulation and exchange in whatever form shift the object between value-schemes, detaching it from its value-in-use, and assigning to it a value-in-circulation (the value of the gift for example is not just that of the use it will find in the hands of the receiver, but something additional: the social, symbolic value of its being given).

Disagree. Circulation is particular to capitalism: an exchange mediated by a universal equivalent, i.e., money. It's ongoing, 24/7 and hides the process of accumulation that goes on in the sphere of production. Potlatch is a festival of giving where the accumulation is right up front, as is the social stature that comes from giving generously. Can the esteem that accrues to a big giver in potlatch be monetized, literally turned into currency? Nope.

Iterability means that the object has no natural home in any one value-scheme, that it finds a home by circulating into place (so to speak).

True, but the value scheme under which most of us--and which is doing its damnest to erode or displace others--is capitalism. And there's no opt out clause; it's fit in or fuck off.

So let me modify what I said above:

When someone writes that some ghostly form of exchange value is already there in any commodity, I don't see them as being very helpful to those of us interested in finding a way for everybody to opt out. And despite the best intentions of Derrida and others, such stuff can easily be used by people who want to dismiss any criticism of capitalism.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

d write: "But whence comes the certainty concerning the previous phase, that of this supposed use-value, precisely, a use-value purified of everything that makes for exchange-value and the commodity-form"

What text could he be referring to? He's like an analfabeta. Marx says no less then three times in a very few pages that exchange value is "latent" in use value because use values all have something in common, and exchange value is the relations between these things, which arise in conditions of generalised exchange, by quantities of that something. You can't miss it. It's not string theory; really it's very simple. There is no "use value purified of everything that makes for exchange-value". It's Derrida's Heideggerian mishigas, he's really just imagining it, like a dog who knows only one trick. And because he does, he really can't even understand the text's straightforward content, which is not at all challenging or arcane actually. It's repetitive and explicit.

"In Marx there is an opposition: use-value vs exchange value. It's hierarchical: use-value comes first, exchange value is a subsequent modification, a translation of the object out of its rightful, original place into a regio dissimilitudinis."

Except this is not what marx says. He says human labour produces use values. In conditions where human relations have developed to generalised exchange, they also produce exchange values, relations between these use values regulated by what they have in common, considered abstractly and quantified. Neither is more "rightful". But derrida needs something to note is not pure, some philosophical insanity as straw man, so he invents this notion of the pure use value, the "rightful" use value, celestial self identity, (in wood!) It's just unaccountable.

All human society is man made, be it gifty to tradey, according to Marx. Derrida could dream of pure use value, with no "latent" exchange value, but there's no basis for attributing this to the text he is supposed to be reading, since that text is about use value with latent exchange value.

"Derrida thinks that the object was destined from the outset to end up in the world of commodity exchange,"

Actually he states it explicitly: "A culture began before culture - and humanity. Capitalization also. Which is as much to say that, for this very reason, it is destined to survive them."

This is a reading of a text by Marx. "Capitalisation" is not ambiguous.

But, let's say you're reading is better, and the "capitalisation" that "began" before humanity is a typo for something else. For in fact iterability. Iterability began before culture. Iterability also. Thus iterability is destined to survive humanity.

It is simply banal, no? And has nothing to add about commodification or capitalisation or anything. as you say, the same banality he says all the time, no matter what book he is supposedly reading. Technological determinist dogma, dogmatically asserted, no matter what the context or question. But it has the effect of replacing the issue - commodification, ideology - which is important to most people reading marx, with topics of interest only to philosophy producers.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

as if the only way out of use-value was through the door marked "alienation".

okay, i have to do this once:

you're bluffing. that phrase doesn't mean anything to you.

Anonymous said...

LCC, I will apologize for the above comment mentioning "barrage". I should have taken a deep breath and walked around the block. The word wasn't meant as insult, for it sure felt like a barrage!
I will not accept, however, your saying my post does not respond to anything in your posts? Did you not begin your series of posts by bringing up ideology?

Le Colonel Chabert said...

Ideology In The Age of Spectacle, a short film:

Marx: "The historical progress and extension of exchanges develops the contrast, latent in commodities, between use-value and value"

Derrida: ""But whence comes the certainty concerning the previous phase, that of this supposed use-value, precisely, a use-value purified of everything that makes for exchange-value and the commodity-form""

Dominic: "In Marx there is an opposition: use-value vs exchange value. It's hierarchical: use-value comes first, exchange value is a subsequent modification, a translation of the object out of its rightful, original place into a regio dissimilitudinis.""

World without end. Amen.

Dominic said...

It doesn't strike me as unusually gnomic.

Say firstly that there are objects - products, whatever - and secondly that objects, lacking intrinsic value, "have value" when they appear within a value scheme which ascribes values to them. Use value would be one value scheme, exchange value another. The same object can appear in both, although it is valued differently (both for itself, and in relation to other objects) in each.

What Marxists call alienation could then be viewed as a transvaluation, a shift between value schemes. It requires the use of force, a history of violence, because it entails dissolving and suppressing one consensus, along with the relations and practices that support it, and imposing another. The Marxist promise/project aims at a second, corrective transvaluation - which will also, as it happens, require the use of force.

Now, I think it unlikely that the space of possible value schemas is cleanly partitioned into two - it's more likely that there are many possible shifts, and hence metaphorically many connecting passages (morphisms, transvaluations) between schemas. "The door marked 'alienation'" is just an impressionistic name for the connecting passage between the value schema of use value and the value schema of exchange value. It's a bit like saying you can only go from childhood to adulthood through the door marked "adolescence".

I don't imagine you'll consider any of this to be of the slightest use or ornament, but I hope I've at least demonstrated that my language isn't void of significance for me. Although that is, on the face of it, a remarkable thing to be required to demonstrate...

Dominic said...

"Developing" that which was formerly only "latent" certainly sounds like a "subsequent modification" to me.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

Here's what's in the suitcase:


What is sometimes since the mid 20th c called ideology in the general since of idea production or thought, Marx calls consciousness.

It is “determined by being”: ideas and thought are in a relationship to human existence generally. Thinking is distinct but not separate from living; it is a distinction worth making but thought shouldn’t be reified. People “have consciousness”, that is, consciousness is a relation between people and the world. People make concepts with their consciousness. Some concepts change very slowly if at all- “width” say. They are steady features of human social life.

In any society, the individuals which make it up will have a diversity of consciousness and experience. The society is experienced from different perspectives and in different ways, with different ways of living, individual differences, class differences, gender, profession. The ideas about the society, about right, love, beauty, divinity, causality which arise from the society will differ, but the ideas of the rulers will be dominant. Because they are dominant. Others will participate in these ideas - of god, duty, right, beauty, property, etc, but these ideas do not suit the dominated, they do not cohere as perfectly with their experience and needs, as well as they suit the dominant. The experience of the dominated, the majority, will produce competing elements of ideas, but they will not become the dominant ideas of the society just because they suit the majority, and they will be dominated by the dominant ones, enformed by them. The dominant will feel comfortable with the ideas arising from their experience and desires; the dominated less reliably so. Sometimes they’ll reject the dominant ideas and sometimes they revolt and sometimes they’ll succeed and their ideas will become a living reality, the dominant ideas. Ideas also change with historical change that does not involve revolution. The subaltern can develop “revolutionary” ideologies – such as that of the Diggers, or the bourgeoisie in France in the 18th century. There is nothing to prevent some of the dominant class members from finding these ideas attractive or true or producing their own eccentric or dissenting ideas; its not common though. Ideology is “reality on its head” because it arises from the perceptions of the dominant class and presents their interests as universal, and develops elaborate schemes of the justification of their domination and the “naturalness” of the status quo.

That’s ideology. In a situation with a diverse and fractured dominant class, with intellectuals and people divided into professions, competing versions of the dominant class ideology is to be expected.

Marx and Engels also uses the term frequently more colloquially to refer to constellations of consciously held ideas concerning the social and political, ideas held and asserted in the understanding that they are contested – political ideology, for example, has varieties reactionary, monarchist, conservative, democrat, nationalist. Also aspects of a dominant class ideology can be in themselves referred to as an ideology – the ideology of the family, part of bourgeois ideology: the ideology of chivalry, part of aristo ideology, etc.. Ideology in general is not all self conscious; it is mainly simply perceived as truth or obviousness, but it is seamless with conscious aspects. But it is not coterminous with “consciousness”, as it becomes for some structuralists later. Ideology is used by Marx for a subset of thought, of concept production. It is that part which alters historically more frequently – emotions like fear, ideas like depth or light, have great continuity across human societies. This is for Marx not what is meant by ideology, although in principle such ideas could be open to being understood that way, if they begin to change, but Marx habitually usually consciousness for the total of idea production and thought and feeling. Ideology is that part of consciousness which is less uniform, which arises from more changeable conditions. Religion. Law. There is no stark line. Derrida’s favourite undeconstructed concept, Purity, is probably on the border between Marx’ habitual uses. Marx is not a philosopher; he doesn’t care about these terms for themselves or for their use for philosophy product and he’s not trying to brand them, or encourage debate about them for themselves. It’s helpful to remember that – he’s not a professional neologism producer. Derrida does not recognise a meaningful distinction between what Marx calls “consciousness” and that subset that is ideology. That’s common of course now, all consciousness is ideology, but it’s necessary to remember that’s not Marx’ terminology.

Derrida rejects the notion of ideology as the dominant ideas of the dominant class (explicitly). He rarely uses the word, but as we can see when he uses it in the text most relevant to spectres, in Of Spirit, he gives it a narrow, specific and pejorative meaning, similar to the way the pundits use it, and specifically sets up a contrast to any appeal to “spirit” and also to philosophy as a genre. Worth bearing in mind what Bourdieu had to say about the conveniences of professional discourse of the philosophical field, probably.

I assume all this is fairly obvious. And was assumed.

"Developing" that which was formerly only "latent" certainly sounds like a "subsequent modification" to me.

right, nice cut. I'll restore the sentence I was responding to:

It's hierarchical: use-value comes first, exchange value is a subsequent modification, a translation of the object out of its rightful, original place into a regio dissimilitudinis

use value is logically prior, not temporally, in a given commodity, in, that is, use values produced for exchange. use value production is historically prior to commodity production, but it's not any more "rightful" nor is it the "original" condition of earth sea sky animals wood sand oil sunlight etc. It's a relation, people produce it as they produce exchange value. the use value of say oil is a relaton between oil and people; its not a property of the oil, but is determined by its properties and by people, by social conditions, knowledges, etc. It's not "original"; its not supplanted by exchange value; alienation does not obliterate it, its just not this crazy thing JD has in his head.

I don't say one can't discuss that crazy thing, wherever it comes from. But it's just not relevant to Marx and its impossible to have a conversation with all this craziness and these horrible old clichés peddled by people who are in need of this straw man as pretext for their aim of the endless, interminable business of critique, now reduced to critiquing ideas nobody ever advanced, having run out of the ones people have advanced, taken for granted.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

what is achieved by this kind of thing derrida does - he's not the only one - with marx is create this obstacle, this stumbling block to a discussion of marx or use of marx. first now you have to have long arguments about what these texts say. and they are launched with an immense amount of garbage which needs clearing away. and for some people, can never be cleared away. for some people, once "use value" is the pure self identity of a tree, there's no chance of recovery. the images, the language, have invited the dalai lama in. it just sort of has an effect like flypaper on people's thoughts.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"Say firstly that there are objects - products, whatever - and secondly that objects, lacking intrinsic value, "have value" when they appear within a value scheme which ascribes values to them. Use value would be one value scheme, exchange value another. The same object can appear in both, although it is valued differently (both for itself, and in relation to other objects) in each"

of course; this is very familiar: its neoliberal dogma. We hear it all the time.

but Marx doesn't agree. For Marx, use value is produced by human labour. Things don't float into it, circulate into place in it. start outside somewhere and drift in to use value. Its a process; the process is labour - production, not circulation, makes use value. In your head maybe the idea of a thing drifts into the concept of use value, but the distinction between that exercise and what marx is discussing have to be borne constantly in mind. Value, in contrast, exchange value, arises from circulation, but the specific chartacter of the commodity is that these market relations make these use values exchangeable regulated by the relative amount of the common thing in them - labour - considered abstractly, become an idea, needed to produce them. And this creates money, and capital, storage of this value that is dead labour. It's not like use value and exchange value are rival "systems of value"; like for signs or something, two computer languages giving different responses to a slash or x. That's liberalism and neoliberalism, and in another genre structuralism - one can discuss that view of course. Just it can't be legimately attributed to Marx. For Marx use value and exchange value are interrelated, intertwined aspects of human relations and of commodities in capitalism. Understanding the difference, and the relation, is necessary to understanding the creation of surplus and profit by exploitation, and also to understanding the power of labour to change this and create socialism.

Roger Gathmann said...

AH, I have a big editing job, so, though I'm eager to stick my nose in here, I have to be brief.

Chabert, you said something interesting when you compared "people reading marx, with topics of interest only to philosophy producers." Indeed they are small and shrinking sets, pretty much intermixed. Marxism doesn't even dominate economic departments in supposedly communist China. Marx could be on his way to becoming another 19th century philosopher, of scholarly interest, but that is all.

Which is why I disagree with the spirit of your reply to Amie's post. That post, after all, presents the historic context in which Marx tried to comprehend using varying definitions of ideology. By eliminating that experience and saying, oh, Marx had three uses for the term, one demotes him to the status of Lotze. Students, write an essay comparing Lotze's idea on interest with the three uses of ideology. It isn't even a film. It is a class test.

Indeed, very much a class test. I like Amie's schema, but I am interested in particular about the use of ideology to mean "the ideas of the dominant class" which turns up in the German Ideology. I like the way Marx propounds a principle with absolutely no empirical research behind him. I think, perhaps, that Marx began to understand that this use of ideology is a non-starter. For one thing, you hardly ever find the dominant ideas in a society being propounded by the dominant class - usually they are codified by subordinates, outliers. Professors at a backwater university in Edinburgh, for instance. For another thing, it totally lacks mediation. To hold to that view gets us to Stirner's notion of representative men - the Stoics "represent" the ancients, and so on. Here, I think it is very useful to view Marx locally. The mediation he is missing is some robust idea of institutions. While in Prussia one could say something about the relationship between the dominant class and the subordinates, because it was institutionally visible, you couldn't say the same for institutions that took on more complexity. It doesn't project onto, say, the United States. If Marx was going to use ideology to understand social processes, he'd have to rethink it.

Now, this narrative does not say, oh, Marx meant x by y, and now he means a by b, and we are all getting along swimmingly in knowing what Marx meant. It doesn't take Marx as a monolith. And that, I think, is what is living in Marx, and what is applicable to our current world system. Which is why I think, far from emitting garbage about Marx, Derrida's interpretation of Marx's metaphoric brings us back to the issues Marx faced, which still exist, of course. Otherwise, one is left with a thinker who has been defined to death, and who is of antiquarian interest - rather like using a map of New Spain to travel through Mexico.

That doesn't mean I agree with everything Derrida says in Specters of Marx. I think he is distinctly weaker, moving on to the metaphoric in Das Kapital, for exactly the reason I like Amie's post - he juxtaposes, he takes the time out of the text. And that time comes in the form of intertextuality - obviously, when Marx is using use and exchange value, he is picking these things up from the classical economists. He's very up front about that. The larger question is about the scope of economics - that merger of conjectural histories with synchronic models. Which I think Derrida fumbles, but which is still a viable question - so viable that Marx himself is concerned with it.

Unknown said...

Ach - every time I want to contribute something to this debate, I find it's moved on... so forgive me if I respond to stuff that happened way back when...

1) On Eurocentrism: I definitely feel that Derrida is Eurocentric. Brutally quickly: Philosophy (Derrida says) is Eurocentric; Derrida critiques this Eurocentrism. But his critique is internal; he turns Eurocentric philosophy against itself; and Derrida does seem to believe that philosophy is an inherently European phenomenon. (Or 'Western' philosophy. But where in Derrida do we find discussion of a non-'western' philosophy?) The Western nature of Western philosophy is undermined through Western philosophy... but I don't think we thereby move outside a certain phantasised idea of the 'West'...

2) I can't say much about negroiditiy - I need to look again at these pages of 'Specters'. But worth remembering, I think, that the only work of Marx that Stirner refers to is (I believe) 'On the Jewish Question'. [And that the postscript to the first part of Stirner's book is a response to a piece by Bauer that in turn responded to that essay...] So certainly the early Marx wasn't free of this Hegelian spiritualised racism... [goes without saying that there's massive discontinuity between these early Marx writings and his later work.]

3) In some other thread, Roger, you said that you think the conflict between materialism and idealism is futile. In a broad sense, maybe. But in terms of the debate over 'Specters' and Marx, surely not... I still think Derrida's key move is his belief that Marx's idea of use value 'ontologises' use value... the associations of 'ontologisation', for Derrida, are quite specific: he thinks that use value is the thing in itself, and can therefore be assimilated to the terms of Husserlian phenomenology. This is made clear in his stuff about hule and use value being abolished in an instant by thought (exchange value performs a phenomenological reduction on use value). But Marx can't be understood in these terms; therefore Derrida's critique flounders. Clearly this needs to be expanded; but not in a speedy comment...

4) The last thing this debate needs is a flame war about Palestine. So forgive me if I mention something that no one else has yet: For my money, the most troubling aspect of 'Specters' is its discussion of the neo-cons in the Middle East - this stuff about a 'battle for the meaning of Jerusalem'. What's troubling here, IMO, is the way 'Specters' dispenses with Marx's 'materialist' analysis [however we understand 'materialism'], and reinterprets contemporary political conflicts in terms of a battle over meaning - as if meaning were the real terrain, the real territory. Derrida's analysis here seems troublingly close to the 'clash of civilisations' nonsense he's apparently opposing. And here, too, Derrida seems to be closer to the Hegelians Marx attacks than to Marx himself...

5) Chabert - I keep meaning to respond to what you said about the parallel between Derrida and Nabokov. I think this parallel is incredibly strong - right up to the double-investment of the Spectre (both trauma and resurrection). But, again, this requires thousands of words of unpacking. In brief - I agree; but I think you may underestimate the political relevance of this insistence on trauma, or mourning.

6) Mean Joe - you suggest "a straight-forward, it's just-what's-there-on-the-goddamn page reading" of 'Capital'. Which... okay... but what's there on the goddamn page is goddamn baffling. Read 'straight', Marx seems to be just incoherent. I don't think he is at all - but I think some fairly heavy duty exegesis is required to make sense of what he's saying.

7) & let me say again what a wonderful post this is, above.

All this my underinformed two cents. Also, I'm drunk.

Anonymous said...

Mean Joe - you suggest "a straight-forward, it's just-what's-there-on-the-goddamn page reading" of 'Capital'. Which... okay... but what's there on the goddamn page is goddamn baffling. Read 'straight', Marx seems to be just incoherent. I don't think he is at all - but I think some fairly heavy duty exegesis is required to make sense of what he's saying.

Here's my paraphrase. I'll use my own vocabular in the hope of making things clear, although that will probably make everybody confused:

• (α) Items have uses which depend on their physical properties;
• (β) In modern society, items are produced not for their desirable physical properties—although either (a) the uses of particular items made are well established or (b) somebody will find a use for it, e.g., the chia pet—but for what they will bring at sale;
• (γ) Given that production is directed by the salability of items rather than their desirable properties, people have hitherto tried to figure out a relationship between the two;
• (δ) The relation that makes sense is the replacement of materials and labor required to produce more of the item, which are not part of the item itself (we're talking coming up with MOAR stuff and MOAR labor to do the same thing, hence replacement);
• (δ') but people act as though the salable price of an item were a property of the item itself;
• (ε) In a world where everything is treated as a salable item, labor sure as hell looks like a salable item;
• (ζ) and in a world where everybody acts as though salable items have their sale prices as intrinsic properties, people take it for granted that labor is compensated for what it's worth;
• (η) but in fact, labor is either (a) compensated below its replacement costs or (b) has no say in how the realized sale price of its, er, labor is divided between them that do and them that own or (c) both (a) and (b)
• (θ) the inequity immediately above is how capital is accumulated.

Plain (δ) is the Labor Theory of Value or LTV (and the way I put it shows I wish I knew more about replacement cost economics, because I think that'll be the return of the LTV) and (δ') is commodity fetishism, the mystification that enables (η) and (θ) to happen (exploitation and valorization, respectively)

Anyway, my take for what's on the page, plain and simple. To my mind, it explains a lot. In particular, successful people in business speak, act, and (I reckon) think much more like LTV people than marginalist—"there's only price, no such thing as value"—economists. They also act as though their role is historically contingent, because they fight tooth and nail for their rights as owners of capital to divide the social product. Then there's the Benjamin Graham/Warren Buffet business about value investing...

Looking back on all this, I betcha in say five to ten years, there'll be an article in REASON magazine where some young gal or guy, straight outta one of the top ranked universities who took numerous courses, that'll identify Derrida as a "good classical liberal" (i.e., laissez faire capitalist) who wanted to remind us of civic virtues in the name of Marx (hence the Spectres) while at the same time showing up all the problems with those weird economic ideas that the man came up with.

I'd put money on it, in fact.

Anonymous said...

"who took numerous courses" should be "who took numerous courses in continental philosophy along with her/his econ major classes" Sorry, it's late for me, and I'm out of booze.

northanger said...



Because ideology here only does a little - what we really want to know is who is making the profits, and then we have an x ray of the forces engaged and what they should be doing, whether they know it or not.

To put it simply, the revolutionary moment, which is the moment at which the alienation produced in the capitalist system reaches a saturation point in which it bursts asunder all the social bonds, is impossible to reconcile with the totalizing system of ‘material interests’ that are outlined in the economic work. They work in two different frameworks.









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AO 24 = 1988 QW = RENÉ DAUMAL.








AO 54 = 6600 QWERTY = QWERTY (1988 QW).






Unknown said...

Mean Joe: briliant summary - sounds right to me. Thank you. Your prediction also sounds depressingly plausible. (I'm pretty sure there's a paper out there somewhere [haven't read it] called 'Derrida's Debt to Friedman'...)

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"Marx could be on his way to becoming another 19th century philosopher, of scholarly interest, but that is all."

yes, derrida in spectres says this is somewhat unfortunate and "necessary".

The spirit of my reply to Amie's post; about Marx that's one thing (much interesting stuff in the post about Marx of course, goes without saying) - yes, but the part that's addressed to me is that because of all this, of Marx' interest in ideologgy (undeniably, undisputed, famous fact) Derrida can't be mystifying Marx, nor can he be liberal, nor can he have written a book about Heidegger - that is, becuse Marx writes all this cool stuff, what I wrote about Derrida is wrong.

It's Yves Benot, of course, not I, who said ideology counts for a little only, using a specific use of ideology (political ideology) - tht's obvious, so i figured it was understood, more hyperbole, like "the Nazis". I think everybody knows I am more than ready to concede that Marx wrote brilliantly and even with remarkably innovation about ideology, a topic of great concern to him, and that I have conceded this, and indeed am taking this position with you about his critique of Stirner. And I agree with Marx about ideology, too.

But you can't agree with Marx and Derrida about ideology - because they don't agree.

So, in reply to Amie, Marx is concerned with ideology, therefore Derrida's book about Marx has to be uninterpretably excellent. And as I said, the conclusion doesn't follow. Marx is concerned with ideology - I know I'm simplifying. In answer to a request to "unpack" a transparent suitcase, because Amie didn't know what I could possibly be referring to. I know exactly how pointless that was you don't have to tell me. The thing is, nothing in Marx can demonstrate that Derrida is not mystifying or that he is not importing the rectorship address and the Führer in the form of messianicity and trying to brand it a certain "spirit of Marx" as a form of anti-Marxist discourse. Only a direct confrontation with the content of Derrida's texts, with its specific assertions and manoeuvres, could do that. Marx anticipates deconstruction, surely. This doesn't tell us that Spectres of Marx "rethinks" Marx on ideology in a non-mystifying or clarifying way. Which was as i understood it the part of the thing addressed to me here - because Marx is so great and observant and undogmatic (indeed), Derrida's Spectres must be a good book too. That's what I said at first - how Derrida fits into all this about Marx is something one can decide only if one acknowledges and evaluates what's actually in the Derrida, not just assume its great since its ostensibly about Marx. I don't dispute the validity of the premise; the conclusion - which is the rebuttal to me, so my responsibility to reply is there - doesn't follow from it. And I'm not sure one can say that Derrida writes about "ideology" in it at all,in the sense of the specific concern marx called by that name; he does address political ideology in fukuyama sort of but says outright its not ideological in the sense of serving a dominant class and arising from their perceptions and interests, but a case of the personally naive and cynical, perhaps somehow due to telecom technology. So are these issues which concerned Marx engaged in Derrida? I don't think that's really the case; rather, the elements of a text concerning the problem of ideology, in Marx, (whch rests on a certain analysis of class and class societies and institutions and conflict and a materialist conception of consciousness) are transformed in Derrida to as Dominic said, another statement of the same old technological determinism - the question of conceptuality regardless of the form and specifics and content of concepts. "negroidity" "capital" and "centre" treated on the same level as it were, with no important distinctions between them - ghosts all. For Marx the problem of ideology is as Amie writes the problem of domination which is the problem of exploitation. Derrida does not acknowledge exploitation at all, and his idea of domination is mystifying, a general oppression by modernity, by telecom technology, by financial technology, (he's pluralise all these) and his concern is not property relations in capitalism, but the attitudes of the bourgeoisie toward culture products. Marx' project was to overthrow bourgeois rule and put an end to exploitation, Derrida's is to justify it and reform the private ethics of the lower level of participants. So showing how insightful Marx was about ideology, and the importance he gave it to his analysis and the importance he thought it had for the maintenance of ruling classes and the reproduction of exploitative class societies, does not in itself prove or suggest that Derrida must be just as he says continuing what he terms the interminable self-critique that is the true "spirit" of Marx.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

roger also - about Voltaire, exactly; this is an historical thing; rural ireland, rural spain, the "mohawks of paris"... this The West and Europe, this spiritual Europe, that Derrida subscribes to, following Heidegger, is completed as a late 19th century thing, taking on its final contours in the neoromantic nationalist stuff through the fascists, Maurras, D’Annunzio, Heidegger, etc, then after wwii it becomes rather euphemistic because of global horror at Nazi atrocities. Europe the word of course has had a meaning for centuries, it's not pure nonsense, it has a geographical and cultural sense to it, one can trace it, the HRE, Christendom, the roman imperial split into east and west, the ottoman empire as another moving frontier, etc. It's the spiritualisation and aetherialisation and homogenisation that leads to this eurosupremacism exhibited by heidegger and derrida and so many others; the suppression of differences, of class conflict, national conflict, to allow the claim to property in global product, Europe's property, Europe as proprietor of this and that, in the cultural and material product of a globalised world since modernity. This europe begins to collect to itself everything valuable and virtuous, culturally as well as materially, to lay claims of property. And it lays claim to modernity itself, to be its essence and to being the essence of it - Marx didn't see it this way, that "Europe" is modern and its colonies "backward" even though he did have a notion of modernity, and what was new, he didn't think another time existed simultaneously, that in colonies is was the middle ages, that other people “represent” different historical time periods of the Caucausian Caucasian individual ego moderns. (which latter gives rise to the concept of "europeanisation", which Derrida uses - it's just this same "maturation" Stirner lays out, maturation from the infantile negro through the "younger brother" asian - as the anthropologist propagandists of US wwii rhetoric about Japan elaborated intensely - to the Manhood of the Caucasian Caucasian, as Derrida has it, protagonist of Enlightenment.) About how this nonsense is constructed, Marx writes: Why it is that for those who regard history in the Hegelian manner the result of all preceding history was finally bound to be the kingdom of spirits perfected and brought into order in speculative philosophy — the solution of this secret “Stirner” could have very simply found by recourse to Hegel himself. To arrive at this result ",the concept of spirit must be taken as the basis and then it must be shown that history is the process of the spirit itself” (Geschichte der Philosophie, III, p. 91). After the “concept of spirit” has been imposed on history as its basis, it is very easy, of course, to “show” that it is to be discovered everywhere, and then to make this as a process “find its proper order”. It’s a game of tropes – child=”Negro”, youth=Chinese, Man=European, the former two concocted as images of inferior stages of the latter: “Consequently”, i.e., because Hegel begins history with China, and because “the Chinese does not lose his equanimity”, “Stirner” transforms mankind into a person who “mounts the first rung of the ladder of culture” and indeed does so “by means of custom”, because China has no other meaning for Stirner than that of being the embodiment of “custom”.

This is the kind of thing you get from Heidegger and Derrida, that there's "europe" - self-critique, enlightenment - in one time and the carribean or China in another; for Marx its all a global history, a global historical moment, a global system, and people are in different positions in it, some are peasants - five miles outside Bordeaux or Beijing - and some are in a new kind of situation, capitalists and wage workers and industrial slaves. All simultaneously, thus all together capable of creating international socialism. He didn't think "Europe" existed in its own time and as a time, (as Derrida does, with his repeated description of the violence committed by non-europeans as "archaic" and his propositions about temporality) or was a spirit defined by its elite culture alone, philosophers, artists and tyrants, while its other was defined solely by its governmental structure - as Derrida in the passage above has it: just look Europe is "enlightenment", values, cultural achievements but some regrettable events in the past. China and the Arab/Muslim world are simply their despotic state structures - no culture, no achievements, no contribution to or participation in that "enlightenment" [!] even after all this time and even today. The name Derrida gives to decency, democracy, intellectual achievement, progress, enlightenment, self-critique is Europe.

Now it's clear there, the rhetoric is a position, and that position is overtly and deliberately against the US. A European social democrat position, a centre left position. But it is constructed out of Derrida's eurocentrism and eurosupremacism, so that the position against the US empire is effectively "orientalising" the US, fitting it into that existing framework, as other of Europe, which is the embodiment and spirit of all good things, admitting its mistakes, self critiquing, etc etc.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

The Negroid state is conceived as “the child” because Hegel says on page 89 of his Philosophie der Geschichte:

“Africa is the country of the childhood of history.” “in defining the African” (Negroid) “spirit we must entirety discard the category of universality” (p. 90) — i.e., although the child or the Negro has ideas, he still does not have the idea. “Among the Negroes consciousness has not yet reached a firm objective existence, as for example God, law, in which man would have the perception of his essence” ... “thanks to which, knowledge of an absolute being is totally absent. The Negro represents natural man in all his lack of restraint” (p. 90). “Although they must be conscious of their dependence on the natural” (on things, as “Stirner” says), “this, however, does not lead them to the consciousness of something higher” (p. 91).

Here we meet again all Stirner’s determinations of the child and the Negro — dependence on things, independence of ideas and especially of “the idea”, “the essence”, “the absolute” (holy) “being”, etc.

so Marx says, Stirner thinks this because he read it in a book. For no other reason. It makes no sense. It's stupid. But he read it in a book. The idea is there; its convenient to himself; it flatters him, it serves his interests. Ideology.

Derrida suppresses the appearance of Negroid in Stirenr's text, suggesting Marx introduced it. He says he introduced it because it evokes "blackness", the night in which all cows are black. Obscurity. From this he gets superstition. He has transformed the question of ideology into one of conceptuality, of blackness, as concept, and then metaphor, cleansed of the entire critique Marx is making of "negroid" as imperialist ideology, operating as ideology, finding its way to Stirner as ideology, accepted because it serves his interests. Derrida's manoeuvre is not only dishonest, it is designed precisely to avoid the question of ideology and to steer himself back to the reiteration of the technological determinism that for him "explains" all concepts, and is all that's interesting, and it vacates both Stirner and Marx of political content, of the specific element of the concepts produced by consciousness and their social and political function, and their historicity, which Marx calls "ideology".

Anonymous said...

Praxis, thanks for the comments and for the nice words about my post. I'd like to respond to your comments but I already have things I want to try and catch up in this. I was quite under the weather yesterday, so I apologize to all for not contributing much here and being in bad spirits.

LCC, thanks for responding. Quite obviously, we disagree about a number of things here. I'll try to get to some of them. But, can I just say something about the "spirit" of my post. I would be truly sorry if you or anyone else thinks it is to be insulting. I would have thought you of all people would have recognized the theater of it, as you are very good at it yourself. And as I have told you in the past, I appreciate your writing even if at times I don't agree with it. This still holds true.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

..but roger i should emphasise this is not to accuse derrida of racism of any kind; its really clearly expelling racism in the strict sense from the justification of europe's ownership of all creativity and progress, even though it takes up a model that was created through and with race and racism; there is clearly no racial component to his idea of europeanness and europe; its purely cultural. and its not even cultural racism, but rather a form of neoliberal speciesism; his superbeings are not people at all but sort of positions of ownership; his europe is close to capital, it is capital of a kind; it's not the white race, or any race at all; its a certain kind of proprietary subjectivity, which any person anywhere can adopt.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"but I think you may underestimate the political relevance of this insistence on trauma, or mourning.

Probably; someone who writes very compellingly about this is Dominick LaCapra, about the Holocaust largely but not exclusively; Representing the Holocaust, History in Transit and Writing History, Writng Trauma, and some other books, very thoughtful -perhaps you have read them, if not, I'd recommend. I don't wholeheartedly buy everything but it's very sincere and serious approach to this, and he's a very sensitive reader of both literature and non fiction. His critiques of Agamben and Claude Lanzmann's Shoah are especially courageous and observant I think.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

derrida also - writing against the US; yes of course europe, the eu, is a political entity; it has a referent; the citizenry is threatened by US imperialism; they/we need to defnd themselves/ourselves. Absolutely. Enlightenment has nothing to do with it. But Derrida puts this in the language of the "civilising mission". Not only have the european citizenry to defend themselves against the US, we have to civilise th world, bring enlightenment to the arab world and china, etc. The fact is, the citizenry of europe have two enemies, US capital (imperialist) and EUROPEAN capital, domestically assaulting the citizenry. To distract from this, Derrida gives europeans an oriental enemy who is also to be patronised and enlightened. Thus "Europe" is defending itself not for its own good but for the commonweal. Thus this "Europe" is not the citizenry but european capital. But he grants capital the role of championing he citizenry against external threats and also grants capital property in the citizenry's creativity and virtues and because of that european capital also acquires the duty to civilise the barbarians.


Anonymous said...

LI, I want to get back to your above comment where you mention that I'm trying to understand Marx's notion of ideology in its historical context. There's a whole bunch of good questions in that comment but let me just stick with this one for the time being. It seemed important to try and do so for several reasons. Because history, events led to drastic overhauls to the theme, which never really settles into place, accounts remain to be settled,and along with it the related question of "class interests."
Also, to de-historicize Marx's texts really does, as you say, make them into a matter of a class discussion. Whereas the thing that interests me the most is the insistence in Marx that it is historical change and revolution that promises the way out.But there again one has to consider why both the revolutionary moments in 1848-51 and 1870-71 failed to do so. And then their is this question of revolution and it's own time, and how right in the phrase that states it there a repetition of the past and some particularly formidable figures from other times. I'm sorry if I'm repeating myself here, but apart from your comment, nobody has really mentioned it so maybe it isn't so obvious in my post.
In relation to your comment, I also want to get to a couple of things in Spectres of Marx.
Let me again at least mention the where and when. The year is 1993, neo-liberalism has its happy face - that hideous mask - on, though things are not so happy for countless many. And there is an academic conference in California, organized and managed by the "Center for Ideas and Society" at UC Riverside. The title of the conference is, as you know, "Whither Marxism", and its task is no less than determining if Marxism is dead or alive. Derrida is the "plenary" speaker, right at the head. Now of course nobody in 1993 is going to question that Marx is dead. That crazy Derrida is not so sure.
"Maintenant les Spectres de Marx." This is the opening line of "Injunctions of Marx".
Maintenant here means, at once, Now and Maintaining.
There is fairly common conception of Derrida as being all about endless deferral and pure dispersal. But here, right away, is Derrida speaking of maintaining and now. Marx, the specters of Marx.

In 1993, should Derrida have stood up in an academic conference and announced in ringing tones that because of internal contradictions of capitalism revolution was around the corner or not too far away in any case. What he does say is right now today, there is unprecedented misery and injustice in the world, and right now and without delay one must do something and not just theoretically.

"Why insist on imminence, on urgency and injunction, on all that which in them does not wait? In order to try and remove what we are going to say from what risks happening, if we judge by the many signs, to Marx's work today, which is also to say to his injunction. What risks happening is that one will try and play Marx off against Marxism so as to neuteralize, or any rate muffle the political imperative in the untroubled exegesis of a classified work. One can sense a coming fashion or stylishness in this regard in the culture and more precisely in the university. And what is there to worry about here? Why fear what might also become a cushioning operation? This recent stereotype would be destined, whether one wishes it or not, to de-politicize profoundly the Marxist reference, to its best, by putting on a tolerant face, to neutralize a potential force, first of all by enervating a corpus, by silencing in it the revolt [the return is acceptable provided that the revolt , which initially inspired uprising, indignation, insurrection, revolutionary momentum, does not come back.]People would be ready to accept the return of Marx or the return to Marx, on the condition that a silence is maintained about Marx's injunction not just to decipher but to act and to make the deciphering [the interpretation] into transformation that "changes the world". In the name of an old concept reading, such an ongoing neutralization would attempt to conjure away a danger: now that Marx is dead, and especially now that Marxism seems to be in rapid decomposition, some people seem to say, we are going to be able to concern ourselves with Marx without being bothered – by the Marxists, and, why not, by Marx himself, that is by a ghost that goes on speaking. We'll treat him calmly, objectively, without bias, according to the academic rules, in the University, in the library, in colloquia! We'll do it systematically, by respecting the norms of hermeneutical, philological, philosophic exegesis. If one listens closely, one already hears whispered: 'Marx, you see, was despite everything a philosopher like any other, what is more [and one can say this now that so many Marxists have fallen silent],he was a great philosopher who deserves to figure on the list of those works that we assign for study and from which he was banned for too long. He doesn't belong to the communists, to the Marxists, to the parties, he ought to figure within our great canon of Western political philosophy. Return to Marx, let's finally read him as a great philosopher.' We have heard this and we will hear it again."


Roger Gathmann said...

A few remarks.

Mr. Green, I'm not sure why a potential article on Derrida appearing in Reason magazine is such a big deal for you. On the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto, there were articles about Marx in the New Yorker and other mags talking about how he was really one of the great celebrants of capitalism. Nowadays, conservatives use Marx's crudest formulation of ideology to accuse scientists who work on global warming of just doing it for the money and prestige, comfortable with the idea that if you can impugn a motive, you can ignore a fact.

The idea that Derrida is a tool of the current dominant class strikes me as utterly laughable. But to each his own jokes.

LCC - as I've said before, I think your interpretation of Derrida and Heidegger is wrong. To say that Derrida, following behind Heidegger, has a positive notion of a spiritual Europe not only distorts Heidegger, but misses the whole brunt of Derrida's criticism of Heidegger. It is a bit like saying that Marx follows Hegel because he uses a Hegelian vocabulary. By that method, of course, one can easily glue the Negroid notion to Marx - after all, if Marx wasn't racist, he would have immediately given up any mention of dialects after reading such horrors in Hegel. So he must absolutely believe everything Hegel ever wrote, every jot and tittle. He must have the same ideas as Hegel. He must subscribe to Hegel's politics. His denials are mere affectations of cynicism.

Well, I think the guilt by association here can only work by systematically ignoring the work. The idea that Derrida, who from the White Mythology on has criticized European universalism, and whose reading of the writing lesson in The Savage Mind in Grammatology makes quite clear what that entails, is like the golem, treasuring up Europe's spirit, is an image that shatters immediately when one reads Derrida. On the other hand, Derrida's interpretation of that European spirit is something that I can understand you disagreeing with, since for Derrida, the programmatic universalism comes out is in a certain kind of Marxism - in the claim, for instance, that the Chinese peasants and the Italian peasants are defined by the same interests that pit them, one against the Chinese emperor, the other against the Italian exploiters - is an ahistorical dismissal of the specifics of locality, culture and history, the founding gesture of the European spirit, the program by which, in fact, Europe was Europeanized. This is why I think your image of Derrida allows you to overcome an inconsistency in your own Marxism - for it can't, in the end, be anything but Eurocentric. Its universal impulse derives from the history of Europe, the instruments it uses to analyze social wholes come, in fact, from 19th century Europe, and its dismissal of cultural variants - although ideology does a little - is the principle of the colonialist enterprise.

Now, as anybody who reads Heidegger will know, far from celebrating this spiritual Europe, Heidegger thinks the technical-scientific Europe is lost - it has lost its gods, it has lost its connection to being. Heidegger takes that notion of a Germany that is not turned to Western Europe - the Germany of Kultur, not Zivilisation - and he seeks to find an ontological foundation for it. It is curious that for you, LCC, German history is a straightforward modular fit into "Western Europe" - because that is just the historiographic assumption you pour your wrath upon Derrida for supposedly making. And, in fact, one of the things you do well, which I've learned from, is regard Europe not as a monolith, but as a composite. The Germany of Ghosts, which Marx choses as a metaphoric in The German Ideology, is rooted in the romantic notion of the German difference. This is why the terrain of idealism vs. materialism, the terms in which Marx casts his polemic, is way too philosophical, and disguised the issue at hand, which is just how Germany will be Europeanized. The tension show up at the densest points in the German ideology, the writing becomes uncharacteristically muddy. To reiterate - Stirner and Marx share the same program, are on the same team as far as getting rid of the ghosts go - yes, they are gentlemen of civilization, not old peasant women, and they know that there are no such things as ghosts. They've been assured by science that dead is dead. I'm sure the revolutionaries sent from France to Saint Domingue had their little laugh, too, at the quaint beliefs of the black rebels. The black generals, though, had their own beliefs, as did German peasant women. That doesn't mean their beliefs were true - or any truer than the scientific gentlemen. It means their beliefs were so embedded in the way they lived their lives that an attack on those beliefs was an attack on the social processes in which they lived. It was an attack on the meaning of their lives.

In Derrida, the talk is not of ideology, it is of programs. Ideology is, well, simply not material enough. Marx, when first formulating it, ignores the materiality of diffusion - the textuality of the text. I think Amie's history does a pretty good job of showing Marx rethinking, not re-using, ideology. But his use of it obviously dissatisfies Derrida, not because Derrida is in the pay of J.P. Morgan or secretly worshipping Heidegger, but because it continues to bear a sociologically naive separation of idea and "matter" - or labor. Marx, who begins, promisingly enough, by telling us in the German ideology that consciousness and labour are imnbricated, then makes a hash of things under the local irritant of posing his universal terms in opposition to the relatively minor irritant of the Young Hegelians. It is a famous passage. I translate it a bit differently than the translation from the International Publishers:

"The production of ideas, thoughts of the consciousness is firstly immediately imbricated in the material activity and the material intercourse of men, languages of real life. The thoughts, thinking, the spiritual intercourse of men appear here still as the direct overflow of their material relations. [Das Vorstellen, Denken, der geistige Verkehr der Menschen erscheinen hier noch als direkter Ausfluß ihres materiellen Verhaltens] The same thing goes for the spiritual production, as they are represented in the language of politics, of laws, of morals, of religion, metaphysics, etc., of a people. People are the producers of their thoughts, ideas, but real working people, as they are conditioned through a particular development of their productive forces and of the corresponding intercourse up to its broadest formation. Consciousness can never be something other than conscious being, and the being of men is their real process of living. If in the collective ideology of people, men and their relations appear, as in a camera obscura, standing on its head, so, too, this phenomenon is attributable to their historical living process, as the inversion of the object on the retina is to their immediate physical ones.”

Thoughts are interwoven, or imbricated - but they also overflow. They appear to be primary - indeed, human labor without thinking is human labor without humans - and yet somehow, they end up secondary - with labor, labelled as material - a very odd use of material, by the way - becoming primary. One notices, in the text, a surplus of the word material, as if Marx couldn't say material enough. Why? Because it fits two things: one, Marx's reformulation of the historical schema first worked out by the Edinburgh Enlightenment circle, and two, because it exorcises the Hegelian tendency to translate all that exists into concepts. We have no reason to think that the latter, while a serious concern of Marx in the 1840s, is anything more than a local concern of Prussia - we have no reason to think it is symptomatic of capitalism, or bourgeois society. He gives us none. Here we miss completely the institutional mediation that distinguishes, say, the German from the French or English case. And of course this is from an era in which science was, as an institutional activity, barely present in academia. By putting the phenomenon of reversal - a brilliant idea, by the way - in such organic terms, he also makes his own thoughts - and these are thoughts, there is not a bit of empirical research in the German ideology - a puzzling exception. Who, then, is speaking through Marx? And why should we believe him, if we believe him about collective ideology? Either he's right, in which case he is wrong, or he's wrong, in which case he could be right. The solution to this - that the dominant ideas arise from the dominant class - grossly lacks ... materiality. It seems like a call upon telepathy.

And this of course gets us to the progams that Derrida says are in play here. It is puzzling to me that we have danced around the social context of the metaphors in play, here - which are all about ghosts, spirits, spiritseeing, and plays. As if these things were mere dross. They aren't, and the program that turns them into dross - that turns to science, and seeks to demystify them - is the program of instrumental rationality quite characteristic of Zivilisation, which Marx highly approves of. The European heritage that you claim is valued so by Heidegger definitely animates Marx at this stage of his career - which is why, in the German ideology, he celebrates Napoleon for occupying the Rhenish areas for - shades of Derrida and telecommunications - "establishing civilised means of communication." Wrench Marx out of the European project as you will, it only makes him an odd exception to his own rule. He was part and parcel of the spread of European ideas - in fact, the European idea, the idea that one would create this universal on a global scale. I think Marx made the right move, to embrace Zivilisation in Germany, but I don't think one can ignore the enormous cost of this move.

Roger Gathmann said...

Amie, you and I overlapped.

I'm glad you quoted that exergue, since this discussion does have a tendency to devolve into a match between teams -although who is on what team is in question. I tend to think that Derrida's instinct in interpreting Marx is, in fact, in the tradition of Marx at his best - a tradition that faces up to failures not as periods in which one re-commits oneself to the fundamental doctrine to march on with ever fewer followers, but as periods of testing in which one sees how assumptions, attitudes, hidden motifs all contributed to the failure, were complicit with it, have to be put into relief and criticized with the tools one has at hand.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

last thing - what Stirner defines as "negroid" is what Marx repeats in his reference to "the negroid form". He makes no mention of black or obscure - he literally quotes Stirner's definition of "negroid" as a childish relation to objects. He is saying "these appear in - what Stirner calls - negroid form" in other words, it is Stirner himself who possesses these qualities he attributes "to negroes". It has nothing to do with real negroes. He thinks he knows someting because he read hegel, who thought he knew something because he'd read somebody else.

"I think the idea that the dominated are a blank slate doesn't make sense to me, unless you are saying that the mysterious origin of these ideas could be anywhere."

There's no mystery to the origin of these ideas. Their producers produced them. Obviously. The people signed their names. Hegel. Hegel is the origin of Hegel's book. Stirner is the origin of stirner's. Neither of these peopel considered themselves negroes.

Are you claiming that "negroes" secretly wrote those books?

(quoting self)

In The Ego And His Own, Max Stirner writes:

The Hierarchy...

The history of the world, whose shaping properly belongs altogether to the Caucasian race, seems till now to have run through two Caucasian ages, in the first of which we had to work out and work off our innate negroidity; this was followed in the second by Mongoloidity (Chineseness), which must likewise be terribly made an end of. Negroidity represents antiquity, the time of dependence on things (on cocks' eating, birds' flight, on sneezing, on thunder and lightning, on the rustling of sacred trees, etc.); Mongoloidity the time of dependence on thoughts, the Christian time. Reserved for the future are the words, "I am the owner of the world of things, I am the owner of the world of mind."

To this, in the German Ideology, Marx replied:

"This is a hierarchy of nonsense."

Stirner says:

“The Negroid character represents antiquity, dependence on things

repeating Hegel:

and "Although they must be conscious of their dependence on the natural” (on things, as “Stirner” says), “this, however, does not lead them to the consciousness of something higher"

So Marx says: ""These general concepts appear here first of all in the Negroid form as objective spirits having for people the character of objects, and at this level are called spectres or - apparitions! [Spuk!]""

The objectivity, without "The Idea" is "the Negroid form" as Stirner defines negroidity.

But it is STIRNER who is the "negro"; it is his own reification, his own fetishism dealing with his "objects" that he conceals, fantasising a "negro" and a "child" to project it onto.

Marx doesn't have to suppose a "liberal audience who doesn't exist" - there was a liberal audience of course, liberalism existed then, but his audience was mainly socialists, among them "negroes". Frederick Dougalass was speaking in London while M and E were writing the GI. He wasn't writing for the aristocracy! To suppose that Stirner's hideous racial nonsense, or Gobineau's, which Marx also read, was representative of the entire range of possible thought about "race" is profoundly ahistorical and wrong. Which should be obvious, as Marx was also writing, as was Douglass and many others who did not share this ideology...

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"the negroid" is defined BY STIRNER are a relation to objects as objects, without abstraction.

So marx says look, Stirner relates to the concoctions of his own brain as objects. Thus, Stirner relates to his abstractions in a way that Stirner calls "negroidity".

That's what the sentence says. Then it ends in a joke - spuk! saying look, Stirner's "theory of negroidity" is nothing but a stupid bigoted slur. It is he himself, not "the negro", who relates to bits of ideology as if they were given objects.

All that stff Derrida suggests, that "negroid form" is Marx' own personal way of signalling darkness, benightedness, superstition, because Marx associates these things with black people, is misconstruction of the grossest kind. And only possibly with the deception about the origin of the word, how it comes to appear in GI because it is a major theme and pillar concept, of EAIO which Marx is criticising. The sentence is one of many in GI on this "negroidity" and its relation to Stirner's idealism and (not yet named) fetishism. It is Marx himself noticing that this is what Stirner is doing with his "theory of negroidity", and furthermore, that this particular ideology of race - the childish primitive benighted superstitious negro, who is a projection of Stirner himself, of all about himself nd his own consciousness he must conceal and expell - is wholly intertwined with his idealism in general, with his Hegelian ideology of history and of "Man".

Le Colonel Chabert said...

" So he must absolutely believe everything Hegel ever wrote, every jot and tittle."

that doesn't sound like a very reasonable conclusion to assertions that they obviously share the same definition of europe, taking its contours from something both call "western metaphysics", and both devote themselves to critiquing, which has for both an identical bibliography and identical defining features, giving rise to an identical problem, which derrida however confronts in a different, though closely related, way.

Anonymous said...

LI, the above comment of yours is quite something, and now I am glad I wrote this piece, and thanks for letting me post it here.
I seem to recall a poll several years back on the World's Greatest Philosopher, and the overwhelming choice was none other than Karl Marx.

There is a passage in the German Ideology which goes to your point re Germany and Europe as well as to your point re the relation between ideas and materiality. The passage concerns "writing history":

"the “history of humanity” must always be studied and treated in relation to the history of industry and exchange. But it is also clear how in Germany it is impossible to write this sort of history, because the Germans lack not only the necessary power of comprehension and the material but also the “evidence of their senses,” for across the Rhine you cannot have any experience of these things since history has stopped happening."


Anonymous said...

Mr. Green

Please, I'm not an athlete! It's Mean Joe Spleen.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"It was an attack on the meaning of their lives. "

Is this how you take Marx' attack on commodity fetishism and capital? An attack on the meaning of your life?

Marx didn't laugh at "the opium of the people", he laughed at the self-serving, ersatz faith and vanity of bourgeois philosophers. He didn't laugh at African fetishes; he laughed at the arrogance of Hegel laughing at African fetishes while his own were so squalid and pompous. He didn't laugh at the old wives' and their tales, he laughed at Stirner trying to pass off old wives tales about "negroidity" as science and the evidence of a superior intelligence deserving superior status.

"Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man—state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo."

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"as anybody who reads Heidegger will know, far from celebrating this spiritual Europe, Heidegger thinks the technical-scientific Europe is lost - it has lost its gods,"

it's not about celebrating or denouncing, it is about concieving. The conception is the same. it's the same thing. derrida celebrates it, heidegger bemoans. This thing does not exist. But both derrida and heidegger believe in it, and share the definition, the contours; they create th same object of their different opinings.

Who, then, is speaking through Marx? And why should we believe him, if we believe him about collective ideology? Either he's right, in which case he is wrong, or he's wrong, in which case he could be right. The solution to this - that the dominant ideas arise from the dominant class - grossly lacks ... materiality. It seems like a call upon telepathy.

Marx says the ruling ideas are ideas produced by idea producers of the ruling class. He doesn't say the only ideas are the ideas of the single individual member of the ruling class(es) you happen to be reading.

Let's say NY lawyers have an average life expectancy of 82. You could still know one who died at 46. An individual cannot die at 46 and 82. But this does not invalidate the principle of the average life expectancy, because an individual is not a microcosm of a group. Groups have certain characteristics individuals do not have. The ruling class will have members who are infants. Some will be senile. Some often drunk. Few will have any theories of history. Some will be in comas. Nonetheless the class produces ideas, even if some individual members can't produce any, and some individuals are eccentric. The ruling class even has professional idea producers.

Here's marx' explanation of ruling idea production:

The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch. For instance, in an age and in a country where royal power, aristocracy, and bourgeoisie are contending for mastery and where, therefore, mastery is shared, the doctrine of the separation of powers proves to be the dominant idea and is expressed as an “eternal law.”

The division of labour, which we already saw above as one of the chief forces of history up till now, manifests itself also in the ruling class as the division of mental and material labour, so that inside this class one part appears as the thinkers of the class (its active, conceptive ideologists, who make the perfecting of the illusion of the class about itself their chief source of livelihood), while the others’ attitude to these ideas and illusions is more passive and receptive, because they are in reality the active members of this class and have less time to make up illusions and ideas about themselves. Within this class this cleavage can even develop into a certain opposition and hostility between the two parts, which, however, in the case of a practical collision, in which the class itself is endangered, automatically comes to nothing, in which case there also vanishes the semblance that the ruling ideas were not the ideas of the ruling class and had a power distinct from the power of this class. The existence of revolutionary ideas in a particular period presupposes the existence of a revolutionary class; about the premises for the latter sufficient has already been said above.

If now in considering the course of history we detach the ideas of the ruling class from the ruling class itself and attribute to them an independent existence, if we confine ourselves to saying that these or those ideas were dominant at a given time, without bothering ourselves about the conditions of production and the producers of these ideas, if we thus ignore the individuals and world conditions which are the source of the ideas, we can say, for instance, that during the time that the aristocracy was dominant, the concepts honour, loyalty, etc. were dominant, during the dominance of the bourgeoisie the concepts freedom, equality, etc. The ruling class itself on the whole imagines this to be so. This conception of history, which is common to all historians, particularly since the eighteenth century, will necessarily come up against the phenomenon that increasingly abstract ideas hold sway, i.e. ideas which increasingly take on the form of universality. For each new class which puts itself in the place of one ruling before it, is compelled, merely in order to carry through its aim, to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society, that is, expressed in ideal form: it has to give its ideas the form of universality, and represent them as the only rational, universally valid ones. The class making a revolution appears from the very start, if only because it is opposed to a class, not as a class but as the representative of the whole of society; it appears as the whole mass of society confronting the one ruling class. ”

Roger Gathmann said...

LCC 1. ah, now we are getting a little further. If in fact there are - as there are in reality - more ideas out there than are mysteriously produced by the dominant class, then we are in the presence of something graspable, a mechanism for selecting among them, and a mechanism for distributing them - what Derrida is so wierdly concerned with in his focus on telecommunications, and what Marx, retrospectively nostalgic for the mission civilatrice in Germany, calls civilizing communication. Of course, the production of them is still a sacred mystery.

We enter, then, the real of social reality, instead of the comic realm of the dominant class somehow producing "chivalry" and "honor" by way of mind control. The comic, here, is that this is exactly Stirner's theory of representation, down to the Stoics "representing" the ancient period.

Which is the cool thing about Marx - unlike the Marxists, Marx pursues his half true ideas until he can either discard them or modify them in the light of experience. Which experience makes the notion that the dominant ideas are produced by the dominant class a non-starter for the serious material investigation of ideology.

Marx, more than most thinkers, is hurt when he is explained by collapsing the historical trajectory of his thought and simply producing an output, chalkboard tables of the "definitions" one has to memorize to understand Marx.

2. Re: Heidegger. Of course it is about celebrating. The binary of Kultur vs. Zivilization is precisely the focus of De L'esprit, the reason for the comparison with Valery, and the reason for the extension of some of those themes in Spectres of Marx.

In fact, the German experience, the Europeanizing of Germany, of which Marx is one of the great advocates, and the reaction to it, the return to Kultur, is one of the themes of post-colonialist cultural studies because it is part of the globalization process - an injected universal, you might say. Partha Chatterjee has shown how the culture vs. civilization binary plays out in India, with Indian nationalists borrowing from a tradition that goes back to Herder.

Getting a grasp on this binary is a great help to understanding some of the themes in the German Ideology.

3. And, a final remark about Marx, Derrida and racism. I find your interpretation of Marx's innocence of racial bias curious. The German ideology is six hundred pages long. If Marx was shocked by Stirner's racism, he surely could have fit some of that outrage into the book. The vocabulary was there for it. For instance, that great liberal, John Stuart Mill, was able to write a fiery essay on Carlyle's racism in 1850. But somehow, we are to believe that Marx was so tongue tied that his copying of a copy was a form of deep mockery reflecting his universal tolerance.

Derrida calls Marx bifid in this instance. What is bifid? It refers to cyphers, to a code that is 2 levels deep, I believe. First you code the message, then you code the code. So, there is a code here. But it is unclear what the code is about. Marx should be able to say, all men are created equal, thus, this nonsense about the negro state is vile and repulsive. He doesn't. What concerns him is not the racism, it is the lack of materialism - when Stirner rolls out the various peoples who "represent" ideas in the development of the spirit, it is funny both as a copy and as a ghost play. Marx knows that, instead, the level of civilisation depends on the level of production - it is the material conditions in which they live that count. That leaves plenty of room for racism if one wants to put it in there. Primitive accumulation by primitives can lead to a train of action of the most repulsive type. And, of course, at this time Marx himself has plenty of the "conventional ideas", as we can see by his essay on the Jewish question. Again, though, in this comedy of copying: Derrida copying Marx copying Stirner copying Hegel, what one wants to know is: why does Marx omit what, I think we can reasonably say, he believes by the 1860s - the kind of reference to human equality that made it easy for Mill to denounce racism?

The reason, I think, is that Marx is reacting so violently against "idealism" that he underplays such bourgeois themes. Given that he wants to armor himself in materialism to the extent that he distorts his account of labor to adhere to it, this is where Marx grows bifid, to his loss. It is here that the question posed by Amie, of the creation of ideology, proves most useful - for instead of using the notion that the dominant ideas are produced by the dominant class, a vague, non-empirical and ultimately valueless instrument for investigating social reality, Marx, over his career, changes his mind on it - much in the manner pointed out in this post.

Roger Gathmann said...

Mr. Spleen, you have a great knuckle sandwich of a name. I can't believe I fucked it up! My hunblest apologies.

Anonymous said...

LI, it is sort of mind-numbing, to see that quote above about "ideological product" from the GI and how it is all about the "ruling classes" when precisely Marx has to change his take on such and not simply because of theory. Did I not try to raise this question in my post? Who am I, but one might want to read Marx on this, and its contexts and time and conflicts, and there one will find as did Marx that ideology is not simply of the "ruling class". In fact to do so, is to not to step out of it, but to succumb to it.


Roger Gathmann said...

Well, though we are all bound to have our views of Marx, Derrida, and whatever, as is abundantly clear from this comment thread - which I've enjoyed and learned from, even if I, along with everybody else, seem stubbornly to hold my positions - after all, I only really know what those positions are after wrangling. I hope that this comment thread does show how provocative your post is, Amie. I only hope that you use it in a more ... well, status bearing place than LI. It would make a good essay for Angelika or Radical Philosophy or any number of publications you probably know better than I.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"now we are getting a little further. If in fact there are - as there are in reality - more ideas out there than are mysteriously produced by the dominant class,"

of course, just as there are more classes than the dominant class, there are more ideas than the dominant ideas. The ruling class is not the only class - it's implied in the phrase. Same with the ruling ideas. The ruling class, those who own everything and appropriate surplus, rule - that's the point; their domination is cultural, not simply a question of superior force, which would not be very stable. Marx' point is not that people are automatons, but that the way property is structured in a society puts groups of people in different positions, in order to reproduce the society, the whole way of life, the material stuff of life, and that these are objective pressues of objective conflict. You say, how can this be true about ideas if Marx had ideas diverging from the dominant ideas?

Why would this be any different if you assume the dominant ideas are dominant for some other reason than their convenience to the dominant class and the maintenance of the status quo of social relations? (Or are you saying no ideas are dominant?) Where's the puzzle? - Marx' ideas are not the dominant ideas, they are not dominant now, they were not then.

Marx writes that consciousness of course of new empirical relations precedes the transformation of society, that the consciousness of bourgeois power for example, preceeded the bourgeois political revolution in France, that is, bourgeois ideology achieved dominance along with the bourgeoisie's economic and social dominance before the achievement of its political transformation of the state.

But of course, Marx was not by any means free of bourgeois ideology - as you note several times in this thread, including some influence of the "civilising mission" and to some degree of perfectibility and "progess"; although all this is subjected to critique, more and more over time, Marx' ideas are not simpl free of all this, or of the dominant ideas about virtue and honour, beauty and irony, the ideology of his period and place, but informed and imbued, of course. How could it be otherwise?

Personally, I think ideas are produced pretty broadly, collectively, and enclosed by the dominant class and modified; i don't think intellectuals really are that especially idea productive, more like they brand, arrange, skew, ornament, and eliminate, prune, select, from all the ideas people produce and disseminate, making the ruling ideas out of something not just producing them independent of relations to everybody else. I think this may have been less the case in aristocratic societies when the majority of people were peasants and remote from the centres of high culture production.

"then we are in the presence of something graspable, a mechanism for selecting among them, and a mechanism for distributing them "

For Marx it's all about control of and influence over the means of production and distribution (for ideas, for other stuff); for Derrida, the dominance of ideas it's just about distribution, just as with all this thinking.

JD in Spectres recognises three seperate discourses, academic, politician/bureaucrat and mass media. They have a kind of joint monopoly on discourse production, he says, and were recently distinct but are now sort of consolidating, he faintly suggests the last is really altering the others and bringing them under its dominance. Their discourses are dominant. What Derrida rejects is that this is a feature of ruling class domination. He rejects the idea that a ruling class exists. He gives the technology a determining role in the content of and homogeneity of the discourses it disseminates, independent of its ownership.

"Of course, the production of them is still a sacred mystery.

If you mean consciousness, thinking, the production of ideas, is a mystery, yes it is. We know nothing about it. We have no explanation for consciousness. It is a mystery. I doubt it was any more a "sacred" mystery to Marx than to Derrida, but to some people it is the sacred mystery, that is, divine.

"I find your interpretation of Marx's innocence of racial bias curious."

You would have to, since I never asserted he was "innocent of racial bias". I asserted he was making fun of Stirner's grotesque and extremist racist idealist history. Which I think is very plain. This is not all we know about Marx' views on stuff of this sort - he laughs about it in a letter to his daughter and son and law.

"Derrida calls Marx bifid in this instance. What is bifid? It refers to cyphers, to a code that is 2 levels deep, I believe. First you code the message, then you code the code. So, there is a code here. But it is unclear what the code is about."

Well it's not going to be clarified by concealing that it is a quote from the text being critique, is it? That it has a meaning in the text under critique, that it is not appearing in Marx' text out of the blue? Why does Derrida do that? Conceal that "Negroid" means "dependence on objects" in the text Marx is quoting and that this is why is has that meaning in the sentence? Isn't it a puzzle what "Negroid" has to do with "objects" otherwise?

"But it is unclear what the code is about. Marx should be able to say, all men are created equal, thus, this nonsense about the negro state is vile and repulsive. He doesn't"

Doesn't he? ("this is nonsense") And why would a statement like that - ll men are equal - be a sufficient critique of racism in Stirner? Derrida surely believes all men are equal, nonetheless he finds Stirner's argument about negroidity and mongoloidity compelling, "audacious, original" and not racist, or so insignificantly so that it is not worth mentioning. He just decides they are metaphors whose source domain is of no importance. What Marx is out to show is that it is of importance, that the racist nonsense arises from the idealism, that for Stirner "people are only representatives of concepts" (that is racism - Marx is saying "people are not representatives of concepts", negroidness, chineseness, this is "nonsense") and that it arises from a whole way of thinking. For Derrida, in Stirner "negroid" is a spectre like any other. In Marx' text he treats it simple as a concept, the concept "blackness". This is why he conceals that in the text under critique it means "dependence on objects" and is paired with "the child".

Why did Marx find it funny and contemptible that Stirner's gives his own objects on which he is dependent, his own fetishised ideas, to which he has the relation he describes himself as "negroidity", the name "spuk"? Why did derrida not get this or choose not to mention it?

"Marx was so tongue tied that his copying of a copy was a form of deep mockery reflecting his universal tolerance."

Oh come on! First of all, we know what Marx thought of this racist stuff from his letters, where he mocks it. In his comments on Stirner, he has more fish to fry - he is not setting out to critique only the underlying racist assumptions with which Stirner builds his case, his metaphors. He treats them with contempt. They are not evidently what is attractive to people - it is not because of the racism that Derrida likes Stirner, is it? Is this what is appealing to Derrida in this book? I doubt it. Derrida considers it simply unimportant. That is why Marx has to show that it is important, not just seperable, something you can set aside and still consider the "argument" about consciousness, self and history as if it were not using these particular spuks.

Would that suffice, in your view, as a critique of Stirner? To say - all men are equal? Doesn't Derrida know this? Then why does it not suffice for him? Why does Derrida find Stirner audacious, original and worth reading? Presumably he sees no connection between the race "spuks" in Stirner and his thinking in general, and simply sets them aside, or perhaps he finds something true about them - we know he believes that Plato invented a certain kind of reason, perhaps he feels this "negroidity" really has/had validity, as a reference to some consciousness yet to be transformed by Plato's european creativity. But I rather think he just thinks its trivial. Marx does not; he sees it is intertwined with the rest of the text, negro-mongol-caucasian; child-youth-man; all "nonsense" which Stirner's thinking produces, and which "transforms people [all people - he makes no distinction] into representations of concepts."

Le Colonel Chabert said...

I mean, Derrida completely misrepresents the sense of the remark he quotes:

the remark is: "These general concepts appear here first of all in the Negroid form as objective spirits having for people the character of objects"

in context it is clear, it means "these general concepts appear here first in what Stirner calls the negroid form, that is, as objective spirits having for people the character of objects."

that is the sense. It is perfectly clear in the text. Derrida uses snippets first, then finally the sentence, and treats it as if the "negroid" form is not specificied by "having for people the character of objects". He treats it as if "negroid" is Marx' contribution and means "obscure, dark, superstitious", as if with "negroid" marx is commenting, himself, metaphorically, giving his view of what Stirner calls "spectres", instead of quoting. As if these are two seperate qualities - "having for people the character of objects" and "negroid" - when it is pergfectly unmistakeable that "having for people the character of objects" is a clarification of the meaning Stirner has given to the term "Negroid" which Marx is quoting. It's an outright manipulatin of the text for the purposes of misrepresentation and to obscure the content of the text which is provoking this response.

You say, why didn't Marx just say "the text is vile". Let me ask you: Why didn't Derrida just say that? Why did he instead say it was original, audacious and worth reading? (not racist, vile and stupid)? Marx clearly thought the text was dreadful and pernicious and wrong about people. False. Serviceble to imperialism. Derrida on the other hand does not see the text as wrong, false, pernicious and serviceable to imperialism.

"negroidity" comes up and Marx attacks it. It is Derrida who choses not to, who choses to implicitly apologise for it in Stirner, to treat it as acceptable in Stirner, and to obscure the racism in it's use, the whole of the racist argument, the racist argument in the theory of history, prefering to minimise it, see it as a "perfidious" but trivial outburst of Marx, a tasteless metaphor he makes use of, unrelated to anything else but Marx' personal desire to smear Stirner as supersititous and beighted. It's a gross misreading - Marx thinks Stirner is superstitious and benighted precisely because of his idealism, not his lack thereof, which is the quality Hegel and Stirner define as "negroid". So it misinterprets on every level. For an obvious polemical purpose - it is the kind of thing verging on propaganda. Reading Stirner, who is audacious, priginal, not racist, we glimpse the seamy racist unconscious of Marx in his metaphors. It's of a piece with the entire book, its consistent misreading, misrpresentation, misparaphrase and its determination to make Marx the father of Nazism. Thus to Marx is attributed that horrible nostalgia for "pure use value" that is actually found in heidegger and could not be more alien to Marx' text, phantasies about "Negroidity" and its dark superstitions are transferred from Stirner to Marx, etc etc. Derrida is purging his own dynasty of all this odiousness; he is dumping it all on Marx, and then declaring the "spiritualisation of Marx" as "messiancity" free of "ideology" and "the ideological", to which he proclaims himself heir.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

I mean, derrida's prime example, in his oeuvre, of an anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-Nazi, anti-totalitarian text is Heidegger's Rectorship Address.

Marx wrote sardonically. All the time. You have to catch the tone. I suppose Derrida could read his letter to his son in law informing him in all seriousness that grampa Karl has just been brought to understand by a very learned man that his son in law and grandchild are racial inferiors, and conclude that Marx believed this to be true. Or you could have half a brain and understand that this is sarcasm, assuming an audience that will understand it as such, sharing in the contempt and more importantly recognising the references. It always amazes me how people read snippets of Marx and Engels where they mockingly quote Gobineau and the racist press and conclude - look, they were maniacal racists. Perhaps it is because nobody reads Gobineau and Stirner anymore, so they just don't recognise this stuff, its been cleansed from our ideas of the context; but its as if someone a hundred years from now watched buffy the vampire slayer, and when she says something like "its a dessert toping, and a floorwax" takes that literally, not knowing it is an echo, a sarcastic reference to something well known which only has sense as a quotation.

Which is not to say Marx was free of the ideology of race; i doubt anyone is; not Derrida or anyone else, not I, not you. That Derrida fails to see racism in Heidegger and Stirner says a lot about his way of thinking, but that's no reason to give the Marx the "not as bad as nazis award". Still, Marx' participation in or "subjection to" the dominant ideas of the dominant class, despite his extensive critique of them, his substantial but not total liberation from them, is no excuse for Derrida's perfectly dishonest and distorting "reading" of The German Ideology.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

I mean, you are saying the dominated "arent a blank slate" so these ideas in hegel stirner and derrida are really based on perceptions of those people, for hegel africans, for striner negroes, for derrida noneuropeans and presocratics; they really are like this and this is where hegel and stirner get their ideas. What Marx is tryinbg to show is that these ideas have nothing to do with africans and negroes; they arise from their authors, from germans, in german situations; they are IDEOLOGY, they come out of experience operated on by interest. The empirical question - proving "all men are equal" - is not really relevant and it is liberal individualist anyhow, not what marx is after. Marx believes consciousness is determined by being; he believes people in different conditions think differently; stirner is not making the explicitly biologist argument of a gobineau, but the culturalist one of a heidegger; he is does not explicitly suggest that a "negro" in a physical sense cannot be a "caucasian caucasian" - its another kind of spectre, out of Hegel, who comes before Darwin. Marx is trying to show how this ideology, the German ideology, arises from the German condition. It is this that Derrida rejects and I guess you are rejecting, assuling there really is something, some real people, some observable something, who give rise to these theories of history. Marx is getting at the more important issue here in this text. Not all racism is biologism; not all ideology of domination hinges on some notion of genetic determination. Heidegger's racism did not, and was just as dangerous - it is this, ideology, which is not simply "mistakes", debunkable by empirical evidence, that Marx is trying to explain and account for. How "africans" nd "negroes" are ideas, elements of ideology, which are formed for the convenience of class domination, out of the experience of the producers of these ideas, out of their perspectives and their interests. Not simply erroneous misperceptions objective rational minds may have of real people which can be cured simply by better and more acquaintance, more facts, more scientific knowledge.

Marx was a bit Rousseuian. He saw people as having lost important things through civilisation; lost liberty and leisure. On the other hand, he saw the "development of the forces of production" which this allowed as a very big gain, that would really liberate people from the greatest necessity - want and scarcity, which cause competition and war and violence. So he saw the narrative of "progress", material development, as a mixed bag; but its a given, history is a given, a fact, and he thought now was possible to regain lost liberty and leisure - that it, abolish exploitation of the mass of people by a minority of appropriators - in circumstances that could make this rally ghood, people really really free, with no need to compete, because scarcity had been conquered with machinic technology and organisation, the socialisation of production. But this faint rousseauism also means in Marx a view of decadence of certain ways of thinking that is "the German ideology"; this secularised christianity. Its adherents put it forward as an advance, as the culmination of a progress, as improvement, a better way of thinking than materialism, which they caricature and then degrade with association with dominated people who are objects of contempt in an existing and developing discourse of race. This whole thing, the whole complex of assumptions, not just the racism, is rejected by Marx. And he sees it as a constellation, a clutch of ideas, as coherent ideology. And he is attackng it as such a complex.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

I guess we must ask who (or what) does Marx betray by quoting Stirner's text as he reads and criticises it? Against whom is the perfidy committed when Marx uses Stirner's own terminology to describe his ideological fetishes? With whom did Marx break faith here? What loyalty was defiled? A loyalty he owes his fellow German, bourgeois, philosopher, young hegelian, a causcasian caucasian, author of an "audacious original" racist screed worth reading "against" Marx, with whom he must have solidarity? Or is it Europe, civilisation, the greco-european adventure that Marx betrays? His own "spirit", spirit the führer, spirit as the will as the will to know as perpetual self-critique that Derrida gives the name of Europe? Which must preserve itself, its unique enlightenment, democracy, etc, against negroidity and mongoloidity, against China and Arab/Muslim despotism, etc?

Or what? It can' be negro people, since Marx makes very plain there are no negro people concerned here, that Stirner's "negroes" are fictional characters, the fictional "africans" he's copying from Hegel, not anybody Stirner, or Hegel, ever met, and not only that they are internchangeable with "the child", which is not to say Stirner seriously believes he was a "negro" when he himself was a child, or that all children are negroes, or that all negroes are children, but that "Man" when a child is a negro, in other words, what Marx says: "nonsense", that is to say these are all fictions, ideological images concocted to embody concepts ("materialism", "custom") and give them a veneer of something else, "world-embracing names".

So saying "all men are equal" is about as useful here as pointing out that "Negroes" also go through puberty, and "Mongols" age past adolescence as well. Since Stirner is not suggesting that "Negros" and "Mongols" as individuals do not reach biological adulthood, the critique of this "audacious and original" argument about their perpetual childhood and perpetual adolescence has to approach it as Marx does, revealing its thingification, its logic, premises etc.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

but contructing plato as european, and making a case for a "european universalism" stemming from plato - what could be more eurocentric? its about what you favour, its how you represent things. how you build and define europe, what is means. for derrida and hedeidegger it's the same thing; attitudes toward it are personal and nobody cares - these guys aren't anybody's priests, nobody cares what they like or recommend. their influence arises from their ideology not their political commitments, from how they frame and portray reality. plato was unknown in europe until the renaissance, and is scarcely known today. the neoplatonism that has had influence on european culture, christianity, is Palestinian in origin. And might there be a connection between Derrida's determination that platonism be european, exclusively, that ancient greece be european, connected to his inability, as praxis notes, to bring his famous concern for justice to bear on an understanding of what is going on in Palestine? perhaps there's no connection between expelling Palestine from the land o' Plato and Derrida's idea that the violence of the colonised in an asymetric conflct is "archaic", but there could be.

i'm not saying derrida's readings of idealist philosophy have no interesting things to say; for me its half observant, half blind; but to deconstruct "european universalism" one has first to construct it, and it survives it "deconstruction" stronger than it would survive an ideological historical critique. it would be better to stop rebuilding it, perhaps; to let it just go away. I disagree with your view that Marx is concerned with the same spiritual europe as heidegger and derrida, but if that were the case, then one can only say, just because marx jumped off the empire state building doesn't mean derrida has to...

This ruse of deconstructing European Reason, the greco-european adventure, is much like the interviewee who confesses to the terrible fault of workaholism.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"What is bifid"

also, probably, bifide - i don't have the french text - just "forked" like the tongue of a snake, following "perfidious", double-edged...there is some treachery here, Marx is disloyal, but to whom? what interests?

"What concerns him is not the racism, it is the lack of materialism"

okay; but these are one and the same. Because without idealism you cannot have "race" at all - it is ideal, it has no material content. It is not a conceptual abstraction, like "forces of production", it is a fiction, like "the devil." Derrida's inability to distinguish between different types of concepts, between fictions like "negroidity" or "european reason" and conceptual abstractions like "centre", "value" or "exploitation" - here we ought have a sense of the distinction in marx between ideology and consciousness which derrida and many later marxists discard - would be a handicap if his intent were really to pursue the critique of ideology marx and engels began, and which was followed by gramsci, lukacs, benjamin, adorno, horkheimer etc..

Le Colonel Chabert said...

and actually js mill does not say all men are equal; he appeals to justice: It is by analytical examination that we have learned whatever we know of the laws of external nature; and if he had not disdained to apply the same mode of investigation to the laws of the formation of character, he would have escaped the vulgar error of imputing every difference which he finds among human beings to an original difference of nature. As well might it be said, that of two trees, sprung from the same stock one cannot be taller than another but from greater vigor in the original seedling. Is nothing to be attributed to soil, nothing to climate, nothing to difference of exposure — has no storm swept over the one and not the other, no lightning scathed it, no beast browsed on it, no insects preyed on it, no passing stranger stript [sic] off its leaves or its bark? If the trees grew near together, may not the one which, by whatever accident, grew up first, have retarded the other’s development by its shade? Human beings are subject to an infinitely greater variety of accidents and external influences than trees, and have infinitely more operation in impairing the growth of one another; since those who begin by being strongest, have almost always hitherto used their strength to keep the others weak. What the original differences are among human beings, I know no more than your contributor, and no less; it is one of the questions not yet satisfactorily answered in the natural history of the species. This, however, is well known — that spontaneous improvement, beyond a very low grade — improvement by internal development, without aid from other individuals or peoples — is one of the rarest phenomena in history; and whenever known to have occurred, was the result of an extraordinary combination of advantages; in addition doubtless to many accidents of which all trace is now lost. No argument against the capacity of negroes for improvement, could be drawn from their not being one of these rare exceptions. It is curious, withal, that the earliest known civilization was, we have the strongest reason to believe, a negro civilization. The original Egyptians are inferred, from the evidence of their sculptures, to have been a negro race: it was from negroes, therefore, that the Greeks learnt their first lessons in civilization; and to the records and traditions of these negroes did the Greek philosophers to the very end of their career resort (I do not say with much fruit) as a treasury of mysterious wisdom. But I again renounce all advantage from facts: were the whites born ever so superior in intelligence to the blacks, and competent by nature to instruct and advise them, it would not be the less monstrous to assert that they had therefore a right either to subdue them by force, or circumvent them by superior skill; to throw upon them the toils and hardships of life, reserving for themselves, under the misapplied name of work, its agreeable excitements.

he is replying to a pro slavery argument, one which inspired Nietzsche, whom derrida considered the great thinker of liberty. Stirner is not arguing for slavery or oppression or conquest explicitly; he is not very far from Mill actually - the negro is a child, not a brute, and he doesn't say it is due to intrinsic biological difference - he doesn't explain it, he takes it as "understood". It's another kind of discourse, the "philosophical" that is euphemistic as Bourdieu says - the kind of discourse that Derrida can approve, he can champion Neiztsche's rehashing of Carlyle, he can champion Stirner's idealised counterpart to Mill's perfectibilianism. Marx wants to get to the bottom of this kind of discourse production. Stirner uses "negroidity" as a trope; it is very difficult to pin down how much he means to refer to actual people or what he really is even saying. So Marx' task is different than Mill's, and had he actually written exactly what Mill wrote, he would seem to be in agreement with Stirner, or at least, not saying anything incompatible. Stirner is opposed to all despotism, all oppression; he's a kind of anarchist or libertarian.

Marx wanted not just to show that someone like Carlyle was wrong. He wanted to show why he thought the things he thought. And why Hegel and Stirner thought the things they thought. And why Mill's idea of justice was what it was. Because this idea of justice is dominant, and for this reason Carlyle has to invent racial kookiness, and Nietzsche even more elaborate kookiness, to justify violating that idea of justice.

Stirner is no more advocating the enslavement of negroes than he is advocating the enslavement of children.

His idea is that negroes are mental slaves anyway; slaves to things, dependent on objects; their minds are enslaved, but he doesn't say that justifies the institution of slavery. They are there as a fiction to contrast with the individual owner, the realisation of Man on a perfectibilian journey of the spirit; but these are different versions of bourgeois ideology, the english and the german.

northanger said...

roger, why do you like "Amie's schema"? why is it so appealing?

re: entering the texts by a back way ("entering the labyrinth whose architect Derrida is"?): might work as computer metaphor (yes), but racism &c (no). back of the bus, servant's entrance, the voiding "back door" &c&c&c. btw, it amazes me that (at some point) "Europe... did not contain Germany". but, this gives me the idea of Germany finding a "back door" to Europe (that Yoko Ono thingy).

re: the notion that Derrida is some kind of Eurocentric guy + LCC's "caught between US hegemony and the rising power of China" -- someone calls this Derrida "refashioning Europe into a fetish" (& other comments there support, i think, LCC's pointing out Derrida's "greco-european adventure").

LCC, i think Amie directly lands at the negroidity address space: "It would then be a matter of demystifying the mechanisms of illusion and of "autonomization" by which a "fantastic" world replaces – substitutes for – reality. The matter is of course not so simple or reassuring. For one thing, as we shall see, the process of demystification, the reduction of the "fantastic" world and the access to historical reality for Marx is only possible through historical change – revolution. But in such a reading of ideology one can at least rest secure and be (re)assured that in the realm of real life and the realm of production there is no ideology. Nor, of course, any ghosts."

everyone's problem (as you state), including the production of racism, is "demystifying the mechanisms of illusion". if BIFID/BIFIDE means "forked" it's a great crossroads metaphor. is the MARX BIFIDE (per roger) Marx dancing around his own "germanic-european adventure"?

i think this comment of LCC's seems to sum up the DERRIDA BEFIDE (correct me if i'm wrong): "Derrida does not acknowledge exploitation at all, and his idea of domination is mystifying, a general oppression by modernity, by telecom technology, by financial technology, (he's pluralise all these) and his concern is not property relations in capitalism, but the attitudes of the bourgeoisie toward culture products. Marx' project was to overthrow bourgeois rule and put an end to exploitation, Derrida's is to justify it and reform the private ethics of the lower level of participants. So showing how insightful Marx was about ideology, and the importance he gave it to his analysis and the importance he thought it had for the maintenance of ruling classes and the reproduction of exploitative class societies, does not in itself prove or suggest that Derrida must be just as he says continuing what he terms the interminable self-critique that is the true "spirit" of Marx."

northanger said...

roger, you may be interested in (1848 stuff echoing many themes in here), Herman Melville: Between Charlemagne And The Antemosaic Cosmic Man Race, Class And The Crisis Of Bourgeois Ideology In An American Renaissance Writer (see note #301).

northanger said...

AO 85 = DERRIDA AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Robert Smith; p77, Second turning :: Autobiographical self-representation from mouth to ear closes upon itself as circle closes upon itself, or like a serpent biting its tail, as a symbol of infinity (as Derrida notes in Marges: see below). In other words, as absolute non-loss and continuity, the circle symbolises presence. It is with a discussion of ideal mathematical objects such as circles that Derrida's first publication on Husserl concerns itself among other things (L'OG,36/TOG, 50-1), and the analysis of the circle is sustained throughout his career - as if he too were circling around it and had to keep coming back to it from an autobiographical compulsiveness - from 'Ellipse' in L'écriture et la différence, to the 'alliance' in La dissémination and elsewhere, to the circle made around the neck by tie and noose in Glas, to the encyclopaedism of Hegel which he analyses, to the circumcised glans in Schibboleth, to the world-circuit of tourism and travel in Ulysse gramophone, and so on. And, under the pressure of this indefatigable analysis, in this example glossing Valéry, the circle shows signs of dysfunction: 'The existence of the speech from self to self is the sign of a cut'... The circle turns in order to annul the cut, and therefore, by the same token, unwittingly signifies it. The snake bites its tail, from which above all it does not follow that it finally rejoins itself without harm in this successful auto-fellatio of which we have been speaking all along, in truth (MDP, 344/MOP, 289) + p78, ...the circuit from mouth to ear is also an a priori open or public thoroughfare, the messages sent along it taking the form not so much of a sealed and esoteric letter as a postcard for all and sundry to read, 'at once hermetic and totally open' (DTA, 42/OAT, 15). Both at once: 'The circle turns in order to annul the cut, and therefore, by the same token, unwittingly signifies it.' what cuts also closes; what closes also cuts. It cuts both ways. The annulment creates the circle of the 'anneau', the ring) = ENCHANTED THE CLEVER WITS (Nonnus, Dionysiaca 41. 250 ff; AQ-17 118, AO-35 PEITHO) = SATURDAY, 14-OCTOBER-2006 (AO-17 118, AO-45 UNUNOCTIUM) = TEMPORARY ELEMENT SYMBOL (AO-17 118, AO-45 UNUNOCTIUM) = THE SANCTUARY OF PEITHO (AO-17 118, AO-52 118 PEITHO).

AO 45 = NEGROID STATE = OUT OF BOUNDS = UNUNOCTIUM (aka, AO-21 EKA-RADON or AO-44 ELEMENT 118, is the temporary AO-21 IUPAC name[10] for the transactinide element having the atomic number 118 and temporary element symbol Uuo. On the periodic table of the elements, it is a p-block element and the last one of the 7th period. Ununoctium is currently the only synthetic member of group 18 and has the highest atomic number and highest atomic mass assigned to a discovered element... On October 9, 2006, researchers from Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory of California, USA, working at the JINR in Dubna, Russia, announced in Physical Review C[8] that they had indirectly detected a total of three nuclei of ununoctium-294 (one in 2002[18] and two more in 2005) produced via collisions of californium-249 atoms and calcium-48 ions:[19][20][21][22][23]; AQ-17 118) = WATER OF LIFE (AO-13 JAMKARAN, AO-14 ARROW, AO-18 QOM, AO-24 AL-KHIDR).





AO 83 = #1 NEW YANKEE WORKSHOP = 3.1415926535 897932384 = 4597 CONSOLMAGNO (1983 UA1) = 67 + 71 + 73 + 79 + 83 + 89 + 97 + 101 + 103 (AO-30 CUPIDO, AO-41 763 CUPIDO, AO-208 763, SUM OF NINE CONSECUTIVE PRIMES) = AGANOBLEPHAROS PEITHO (AO-52 118 PEITHO) = CAN TAKE UP ONLY SO MUCH SLACK = CURSOR OPTIMIZATION = DISPLACEMENT AND REFERENCE = FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD = FORMULA FOR INTERCALATION = FOUR PRIVILEGE LEVELS = GENERAL PROTECTION FAULT = HAITI ON THE 'DEATH PLAN' (Reed Lindsay - May 15, 2008 - The Nation :: Thousands of protesters had paralyzed Les Cayes for nearly a week, beginning April 3, covering streets in rocks, broken-down cars and burning tires. Community leaders demanded the government lower food prices, set a date for the departure of UN peacekeepers and end the "death plan," a reference to the neoliberal economic policies that have prevailed in Haiti for more than two decades. Meanwhile, Port-au-Prince was overrun by bands of rock-throwing protesters, who set fire to gas stations, looted businesses and assailed the presidential palace. Similar demonstrations exploded in the cities of Petit Goâve, Léogâne and Gonaïves. The barricades were finally lifted when President René Préval promised to subsidize the price of imported rice by 15 percent and the Parliament sacked the prime minister) = HINDU-ARABIC NUMERAL SYSTEM = IDEALIZED ASSUMPTION = ILLUSIONSLOSIGKEIT = LAUNCH WINDOW ANALYSIS = MAINFRAME ENVIRONMENTS = MATHEMATICAL ROLE OF ZERO (AO-67 BRAHMASPHUTASIDDHANTA) = METHOD OF THE INDIANS (AO-50 MODUS INDORUM) = ONE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN = PROPOSITION III = SEVENTH PYRAMIDAL NUMBER = SEVENTH SQUARE PYRAMIDAL = THE ARROW THAT FLIES BY DAY (AO-28 PSALM 91:5) = THE DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD (AO-57 EPHESIANS 6:12) = THE SCHWA (UPSIDE DOWN E) (AO-21 DYEUS).






Dominic said...


God, I've still got a copy of that.

Smith was a strange chap. Left academia to do something else, like make a lot of money. Either that or run a cult. Possibly both.

Ah, I see I wasn't altogether wrong...

Le Colonel Chabert said...

thanks north hanger:
"is the MARX BIFIDE (per roger) Marx dancing around his own "germanic-european adventure"?"

there's surely something like that there - it could not be otherwise - but its really cracked open and disrupted constantly by critical thinking. About British imperialism in China, for exmple, Marx says the attack will change the course of Chinese history and how the Chinese react will change the course of European history. He sees it always two way; national struggle and global class struggle.

Anonymous said...

LI, i would like to take up one of your suggestions, and briefly extend something from the post. I wrote that Capital - the text - can also be read as a response to 1848. By which I mean, that it is also a work of mourning for 1848, for the revolution and for the proletariat. It is also a text haunted by the revolution and the proletariat. In previous texts, the proletariat is "ever present". In Capital, remarkably enough, the name and the word proletariat almost disappears. Marx instead utilizes Arbeiterklasse (working class). What to make of this quasi-absence of the name and of the proletariat from Capital? As if they had become ghosts?

One other comment. I was looking at LCC's latest instance of what LCC calls a careful reading of Specters of Marx, and notice that it starts off thusly:
"Spectres of Marx opens with an exordium, and the appearance of a spirit. A ghost. It is not a ghost of Marx, but of the arch anti-communist, Nietzsche..."

Well, I'm not going to argue the point, but will anyone be surprised in reading the exordium (exorde) to find that Nietzsche is nowhere named in that section though Kant is. But maybe Kant is not enough of an "anti-communist".

My problem with this statement is a little different. Spectres of Marx does not open as LCC asserts with an exordium but with a "dedication". And in that dedication is named a "figure", the very first proper name to occur in Spectres of Marx. It is that of Chris Hani.

What to make of an assertion and a gesture that blatantly and violently effaces and erases Chris Hani's name from Spectres of Marx? So this is close reading? And it is Derrida who stands accused of cynicism?

Allow me to quote from the opening dedication:

"But one should never speak of the assassination of a man as a figure, not even as exemplary figure in the logic of an emblem, a rhetoric of the flag or of martyrdom. A man's life, as unique as his death, will always be more than a paradigm and something other than a symbol. And this is precisely what a proper name should always name.
And yet. And yet, keeping this in mind and having recourse to a common noun, I recall that it is a communist as such, a communist as communist, whom a Polish emigrant and his accomplices, all the assassins of Chris Hani, put to death a few days ago, April 10th. The assassins themselves declared that they were out to get a communist. They were trying to interrupt negotiations and sabotage an ongoing democratization. This popular hero of the resistance against Apartheid became dangerous and suddenly intolerable, it seems, at the moment in which, having decided to devote himself once again to a minority Communist Party riddled with contradictions, he gave up important responsibilities in the ANC and perhaps any official political or even governmental role he might one day have held in a country freed of Apartheid.
Allow me salute the memory of Chris Hani and to dedicate this lecture to him."

the italics are in the text.

Anonymous said...

oops, the italics disappeared as i posted this. It is communist which is in italics in the line "...a communist as such, a communist as communist..."


Anonymous said...

Here is the above text in French:

Mais on ne devrait jamais parler de l'assissinat d'un homme comme d'une figure, pas même une figure exemplaire dans une logique de l'emblème, une rhetorique du drapeau ou du martyre. La vie d'un homme, unique autant que sa mort, sera toujours plus qu'un paradigme et autre chose qu'un symbole. Et c'est cela même que devrait toujours nommer un nom propre.

Et pourtant. Et pourtant, gardant cela en mémoire, et recourant à un certain nom commun, qui n'est pas n'importe quel nom commun, je rappelle que c'est un communiste comme tel, un communiste comme communiste, qu'un émigré polonais et ses complices, tous les assassins de Chris Hani, ont mis à mort il y a quelques jours, le 10 avril. Les assassins ont déclaré eux-mêmes qu'ils s'en prenaient à un communiste. Ils essayaient alors de interrompre des négociations et de saboter une démocratisation en cours. Ce héros populaire de la résistance contre l'Apartheid a paru dangerereux, semble-t-il, et tout à coup intolérable au moment précis où, décidant de se consacrer à nouveau à un parti communiste minoritaire et traversé de contradictions, il renonçait à de hautes responsabilités dans l'ANC et peut-être à jouer un rôle politique officiel, voire gouvernemental, dans un pays délivré de l'Apartheid.
Permettez-moi de saluer la mémoire de Chris Hani et de lui dédier cette conférence.


northanger said...

thanks Amie (have to get out my dave matthews band cds now).

Berlin Wall falls 09-Nov-1989. 94 days later, Nelson Mandela released from prison 11-Feb-1990 (our march to freedom is irreversible).

northanger said...

AO 94 = [19 TROPICAL YEARS = 6939.602 DAYS] = ABOUT INTERACTIVE FICTION = AN X RAY OF THE FORCES ENGAGED = BUT OTHER NUMBERS TELL A DARKER STORY (AO-107 THE GREAT FLY SPEAKS THROUGH US ALL) = CAUGHT THE EYE OF THE SULTAN = COMPLEXLY RESONANT SYMBOL = DESCENDING DIPHTHONG = DIOPHANTINE EQUATION = EXHAUSTS THEIR IDENTITY = IRREGULAR MOONS OF NEPTUNE = LADY COLUMBIA IN HER CHARIOT = OBLIGATORILY RECIPROCATED (p6, This current was the impetus of a two-pronged question that Mauss had formulated in an attempt to decipher the enigma of gift-giving: "What rule of law and of interest, in societies of a backward or archaic type, compels the gift that has been received to be obligatorily reciprocated. What power resides in the object given that causes its recipient to give it back? ¶ An odd question, given that Mauss would go on to show that the act of giving is actually a concatenation of three obligations: giving, receiving (i.e. accepting), and making a return gift once one has accepted. This was a simple, powerful hypothesis which, by postulating the interlinking nature of these three acts, seemed to forbid considering them separately. However, both of Mauss' questions focused on only one of the three obligations, that of reciprocating the gift, as though the other two were self-evident. Furthermore, the formulation of the second question seems already to contain the answer to the first: Mauss was obviously evoking the existence of a spirit in the thing which compelled the recipient to return it. In short, it is as if he did not regard the existence of a rule of law or of interest as a sufficient reason and felt the need to add a "religious" dimension. ¶ Lévi-Strauss saw the hole in the reasoning and headed for it, castigating Mauss for having strayed from his analysis and having failed to apply the same method to all three steps, which form a whole: this was a methodological error a structuralist would never have committed, and which stemmed from the fact that Mauss had let down his guard, had momentarily forgotten to think as a scientist, and let himself be "mystified" by an "indigenous" theory. At this point, Lévi-Strauss proposed a global explanation of social phenomena which made the entire social domain a combination of forms of exchange, the origins of which were to be sought in the deep-seated unconscious structures of the mind, in its capacity for symbolization. Instead of being presented with a sociological study on the origin of symbols, the reader was offered the sweeping vision of a "symbolic origin of society." AO-62 FALSE ETYMOLOGY, AO-88 THE ENIGMA OF THE GIFT) = PROJECT A SYSTEM OF REJECTIONS (AO-89 PHANTOMS OF IDEOLOGY) = SIMILARITY TRANSFORMATION = SINKING OF THE LUSITANIA = SULEIMAN THE MAGNIFICENT = THE CHIEF WHITE EUNUCH (AO-30 KAPI AGHA) = THE CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE = THE REVOLUTIONARY MOMENT (THE TOTAL SOCIAL FACT) = UNFINISHED PYRAMID (NEBKA).





Le Colonel Chabert said...

Chris Hani, dead communist, could not say what he thought of Derrida's project to "spiritualise" Marx and "annihilate" that which attaches it to "the body" of "Marxist doctrine", to parties, to the analysis of class, to a revolutionary struggle, etc.. Hani indeed can be identified as a Marxist in one of the spirits to be annihilated. That Derrida chose to dedicate the speeches to him does not authorise us to assume his consent to the role assigned him as dedicatee or agreement with the content of that which is dedicated; we can't assume his patronage of the content of the text. Is there anything in this text dedicated to Hani, as a dead communist, (and not to any of his living comrades, those who carry on the collective project to which he devoted himself), that pertains to his ideas, actions, commitments, struggle except to reject them and denounce them as criminal and embryos of "totalitarian monstrosity"? Isn't Derrida's choice of communist for honouring with this gift of his lectures in keeping with the anti-communist tradition and its preference for dead communists?

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"But one should never speak of the assassination of a man as a figure, not even as exemplary figure in the logic of an emblem, a rhetoric of the flag or of martyrdom. A man's life, as unique as his death, will always be more than a paradigm and something other than a symbol. And this is precisely what a proper name should always name.
And yet. "

and yet that's just what derrida's going to do. chris hani, an emblem. Chosen to be celebrated not for anything he did - for what he did and believed is reviled at length in the text - but for what was done to him: he was assassinated. the text is dedicated to him as victim of assassination. a mute communist evoked as convenient interlocutor; an illusion of his consent to the text, a repudiation of all he believed and did and struggled for, easily compelled. he can't resist, like a ghost at a quack seance, he must come when called.

Biden's foreign policy: let's bet everything on authoritarianism!

  And watch it all slip away (Por fin se va acabar) Or leave a garden for your kids to play (Jamás van a alcanzar)  --- The Black Angels, El...