Index: Laterals



Agency

Pauketat, p. 2; p. 6; p. 27-8;; p. 28 agency not intentionality; p. 29

see Weber refs


When Breath Becomes Air

Swarm Theory

Generosity

The Lowland

Bellow-Roth


Cartesian Selves

לשון הרע

Rick Tillman, The Intellectual Legacy of Thorstein Veblen (Greenwood Press, 1996)

C. Wright Mills has argued that 'both Marxism and Liberalism make the same rationalist assumption that men, given the opportunity, will naturally come to political consciousness of interests, of self, or of class.  p. 115

Malafouris and Renfrew, Introduction: The Cognitive Life of Things: Archeology, Material Engagement and the Extended Mind ()

 . . . our deeply rooted Cartesian visions and modes of thinking . . .  p. 1

Descola, p. 117-125; "the preconceptions of modernity" (p. 405)

Pauketat, p. 5 (on ontologies, p. 6 [also Descola]; p. 11 on "motivated human agents"; p. 13 on "methodological individualism"; p. 28 on "rational actors"












Human Nature 1

1.  Gilbert Simondon on "human nature"

from Andrea Bardin, Epistemology and Political Philosophy in Gilbert Simondon: Individuation, Technics, Social Systems

“Simondon’s view on the complex nature of social processes derives from his adoption of the paradigm of quantum physics for the study of social systems.  Although he does not always make it explicit, a conception of human nature as a ‘work in progress’ is implicit in his epistemology.  Hence his philosophy allows for a critique of the modern imagination—both ideological and scientific—of the contraposition between individuals and society, and can be a useful tool for questioning the contemporary relation between technological and social innovation in complex societies.  p. 2

Simondon’s model plays thus a demystifying role against this apparent alternative, be demounting, first of all, the very image of human nature that all philosophical political imagination has ever been based on.  Simondon’s ground breaking contribution is neither a restoration of the classical role played by human beings between divinity and nature, nor the discover of a new ‘place de l’homme dans la nature’ (De Chardin 1956).  It is rather the dissolution of the very myth of a human nature grounding both sides of this false alternative.  pp. 229-30

 . . .  Simondon’s perspective entails the full acceptance of the achievements of the empirical sciences and the integration of evolutionism in the philosophical worldview.  This means not only the acceptance, of course, that homo sapiens are an animal species, but also the clarification that political problems do not strictly pertain to a species, because societies are complex systems made of so many differently evolving processes taking place at so many different levels, that they cannot be reduced to any ultimate ‘model’.  Finally, such processes can only very approximately be qualified as ‘human progress’.  And, more importantly from a philosophical point of view, this allows for a rereading of all that has been traditionally referred to as ‘human nature’ in terms of a complex intertwining of processes, that it makes no sense anymore to reduce it to any supposed stable identity, whether individual [Roth] or collective. p. 230

Through his philosophy of individuation Simondon succeeded in keeping at a distance the reassuring image of a ‘human nature’, an essence to which political philosophy had for a long time secured its promise of a ‘normal’ functioning of the ‘body politic’.  p. 234

John Pettegrew, Brutes in Suits: Male Sensibility in America, 1890-1920 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).

"human nature" continued below




Human Nature 2

2. Karl Marx on human nature: the dark side of species being

The effects of power deserve as much scrutiny as the strategies and structures of power.  The "people", for the most part, are neither innocent bystanders nor independent agents, but are, to varying degrees, effects of power.  (The same could also be said of elites.*)

from "'Species-Being' and 'Human Nature' in Marx", by Thomas E. Wartenberg, in Human Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1982), pp. 77-95

Marx's great insight was to show how much of what we take to be' 'natural' ' and ' 'fixed' ' is the result of the social activities of human beings and therefore is subject to conscious manipulation. (Wartenberg, p. 82)

This critique asserts neither that capitalism will inevitably fall apart, nor that it is unfair insofar as it is based upon exploitation of the worker, although it is arguable that such critiques are also present in Marx's writings.  The best metaphor for this aspect of Marx's criticism of capitalism is that it stunts development of the human species, reducing the human being to a mere animal.  (87)

What I want to suggest is that, in rejecting the notion of a fixed human nature, Marx is following a basic claim of Hegel's social theory, the claim that the form in which individuality is conceptualized or instantiated in a given social structure depends upon that very structure itself. Marx accepts this view of human individuality as historically and socially conditioned, and then he turns it upon those theorists, both philosophers and political economists, who accept a particular stage of human development as definitive of "human nature." In a move similar to the one he makes against Hegel--but this time following Hegel's lead--Marx argues that such views of a fixed, ahistorical human nature treat a particular form of development--one that is empirically accessible--as yielding a metaphysical truth about the world. . . . 

Hegel-Marx on species being is only an initial formulation of an historical, sociocultural, cognitive developmental perspective.  And Vygotsky-Bronfenbrenner et. al., in confining themselves to educational issues, leave relatively unexplored what in fact could not really emerge as a problematic until the present, when we are beginning to see things hitherto unimaginable.  (But see Hall, et. al., Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture.)

The dialectical-developmental notion in hegelmarx in its early form has a hopeful, optimistic, progressive ring to it.  It did not understand that power could have the effect of producing a new kind of barbarism (of which the Holocaust is only the tip of the iceberg), and fuse this with archaic, pre-human forces on the one hand (proto-Dorian convention; Wrangham and Wilson "Collective Violence: Comparison Between Youths and Chimpanzees"); while on the other hand produce an explosion of narcissistic desire and disindividuation.  all of this being played out in the perverse theaters of public and private life.  Left for dead in this postmodern rubble of a species gone mad is Bildung.  

*Marx, Capital, vol. III, p. 180.  "Concentration of means of production in few hands, whereby they cease to appear as the property of the immediate labourers and turn into social production capacities. Even if initially they are the private property of capitalists. These are the trustees of bourgeois society, but they pocket all the proceeds of this trusteeship." (emphasis added)



Human Nature 3

Marshall Sahlins on "human nature"

from Hierarchy, Equality, and the Sublimation of Anarchy: The Western Illusion of Human Nature, The Tanner Lectures on Human Values Delivered at The University of Michigan November 4, 2005

[see also Marshall Sahlins, “The Sadness of Sweetness: The Native Anthropology of Western Cosmology,” Current Anthropology  Volume 37, Number 3, June 1996]

"The conscious invention of human nature is the ultimate cultural specification."  p. 404, n. 28  Quote 403-404 on this!!!

"Given that biologically we are human beings only in potentia, indeterminate creatures whose inclinations remain to be culturally specified, society might be better conceived as a means of empowering people rather than subduing them." 404  UAW

on language contra Lacan: 404

on conflation of "the origin of society with the origin of state"  405
--------------------------
Tanner Lecture

Here was the dualism that established the natural ground of our metaphysical Tri- angle: the antisocial human nature that equality and hierarchy themselves contend to control.  95

Indeed, the american imperialist project of neoliberal democratization has the same ancient premise. It assumes that the innate practical rationality common to mankind, if it can be relieved of local culture idiosyncrasies, as by employing the kind of force anyone would natu- rally understand, will make other peoples happy and good, just like us.  96

more cynical (and more up to date sociobiologi- cally speaking) is callicas’s complex argument in the Gorgias (482c–484a, 492a–c) that such good order and noble sentiments are merely mystifi- cations of an irrepressible self-interest: merely public right thinking by which the weak vainly attempt to suppress the gainful inclinations of the strong.  [contra Cliff Williams UAW]  96

Beyond the ancient arguments about whether human nature was good or bad and the cultural constructions that could be made of it, the Western tradition has long harbored an alternative conception of order, of the kind anthropologists traditionally studied: kinship community. It is true that in the West this is generally the unremarked human condition, despite that—or perhaps because—family and kindred relations are sources of our deepest sentiments and attachments. Ignoring these, our philosophies of human nature generally come from the larger society, organized on radically different principles. In the occurrence, “human nature” almost always consists of the imagined dispositions of active adult males, to the exclusion of women, children, and old folks and the neglect of the one universal principle of human sociality, kinship. 97

In this condition of mutuality of being, interests are no more confined to the satisfactions of the individual body than selves are to its boundar- ies. ethnographic notices tell rather of “the transpersonal self ” (native americans), of the self as “a locus of shared social relations or shared bi- ographies” (caroline Islands), of the person as “the plural and composite site of the relationships that produced them” (new Guinea Highlands). observations of this kind are easily multiplied, and what they all indicate is a certain disconformity between the self as being and the person as sin- gular agent. on the one hand, the self transcends the person and is present in other persons. People enter into mutual relationships of being by virtue of birth, residence, marriage, common descent, gift exchange, dependence on the same land, feeding and nurturing, or other such means by which kinship is locally established. on the other hand, then, the single person includes the multiple selves with whom he or she is in such communion. Through various kin relationships, others become predicates of one’s own existence.  I do not mean the interchange of standpoints that is a feature of all direct social relationships according to the phenomenologists. I mean the integration of certain relationships, hence of certain others, in one’s own being. We have not to do here with the self-contained, self-loving individuals of the native Western folklore. Indeed, for them, not even ex- perience, that ultimate individual function, is in fact individual. 99-100
 . . . .
Here is the very opposite of bourgeois possessive individualism: in a community of reciprocal being, not even a person’s body is his or her own; it is a social body, the subject of the empa- thy, concern, and responsibility of others. . . .  natural self-interest? For the greater part of humankind, self- interest as we know it has been madness, witchcraft, or some such grounds for ostracism, execution, or at least therapy.100

There is no such “nature” as we know it, and a fortiori no dualism of nature and culture.101


The Illusion of Human nature

The problem is not whether human nature is good or bad. The many “anti- Hobbists” of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries who attacked innate egoism on the grounds of natural goodness or natural sociability remained within the same sclerotic framework of a corporeal determination of cultural forms. But beginning in the enlightenment, the idea of the human condition as a culturalized nature appeared within the Western tradition. Thus Adam Ferguson’s observation that individuals do not exist before or apart from society but are constituted therein. In society they are born, and there they remain—capable of all the sentiments on which diverse peoples construct their existence, amity prominent among them and enmity as well. For Marx similarly, the “human essence” exists in and as social relationships, not in some poor bugger squatting outside the universe. Men individualize themselves only in the context of society, as notably in the European society of the eighteenth century, which thus gave rise to the economists’ fantasies (“robinsonades”) of constructing their science from the supposed dispositions of a single isolated adult male. nor did Marx indulge in reading from social formations to innate dispositions, although again one could certainly read from bourgeois society to the mythical Hobbesian war of each against all. Born neither good nor bad, human beings form themselves for better or worse in social activity (praxis) as it unfolds in given historical circumstances. One might suppose that some knowledge of colonized others contributed to this an- thropology.  In any case, with the important proviso that “given cultural orders” replace “given historical circumstances” in the Marxist formulation, in other words that the praxis by which people make themselves is itself culturally informed, this notion of the human condition is an ethno-graphic commonplace.

No ape can tell the difference between holy water and distilled water, Leslie White used to say, because there is no difference chemically—although the meaningful difference makes all the difference for how people value the water, even as, unlike apes, whether or not they are thirsty makes no difference in this regard. That was my brief lesson on what means “sym-bol” and what means “culture.” regarding the implications for human nature, leading a life according to culture means having the ability and knowing the necessity of achieving our natural inclinations symbolically, according to meaningful determinations of ourselves and the objects of our existence. Human culture, it needs be considered, is much older than human nature: culture has been in existence for two million years or more, ten or fifteen times longer than the modern human species, homo sapiens. respectable biological opinion has come around to seeing the human brain as a social organ, evolving in the Pleistocene under the “pressure” of maintaining a relatively extended, complex, and solidary set of social relationships. This is to say that culture, which is the condition of the possibility of this successful social organization, thereby conditioned the possibilities of the human organism, body and soul. The “pressure” was to become a cultural animal, or, more precisely, to culturalize our animality. For two million years, we have evolved biologically under cultural selec- tion.  not that we are or were“ blank slates,”lacking anyinherent biological imperatives, only that what was uniquely selected for in the genus homo was the ability to realize these imperatives in the untold different ways that archaeology, history, and anthropology have demonstrated. Biology became a determined determinant, inasmuch as its necessities were mediated and organized symbolically. We have the equipment to live a thousand different lives, as Clifford Geertz says, although we end up living only one. But this is possible only on the condition that biological imperatives do not specify the objects or modes of their realization.

So who are the realists? Fijians say that young children have “watery souls,” meaning they are indeterminate until they demonstrate their social being by the practice of Fijian relationships. as in many kinship-domi- nated communities, humanity is defined by reciprocity. “The mind (will, awareness),” strathern was told in Hagen, “first becomes visible when a child shows feeling for those related to it, and comes to appreciate the interdependence or reciprocity that characterizes social relationships.”  Although from augustine to Freud the needs and dependencies of infants have been taken as evidence of their egoism—consider how we gratuitously speak of the child’s needs as “demands”—the prevalent interpretation among the anthropological others is simply that the child is incomplete, not yet defined as human by engagement in the cultural praxis of relation- ships. Human nature then becomes a specific cultural kind. so when in Java “the people quite frankly say, ‘To be human is to be Javanese,’” Geertz, who reports it, says they are right—in the sense that “there is no such thing as human nature independent of culture.” again, not that there is no such nature, but that its mode of existence and social efficacy depends on the culture concerned—a mediated and thus determined determinant.

What is most pertinent to the relations between physis and nomos is not (for example) that all cultures have sex but that all sex has culture. sexual drives are variously expressed and repressed according to local de- terminations of appropriate partners, occasions, times, places, and bodily practices. We sublimate our generic sexuality in all kinds of ways—includ- ing its transcendence in favor of the higher values of celibacy, which also proves that in symbolic regimes there are more compelling ways of achiev- ing immortality than the inscrutable mystique of the “selfish gene.” after all, immortality is a thoroughly symbolic phenomenon—what else could it be? (In The Theory of moral sentiments, adam smith observes that men have been known to voluntarily throw away lives to acquire after death a renown that they could no longer enjoy, being content to anticipate in the imagination the fame it would bring them.) Likewise, sexuality is realized in various meaningfully ordered forms. some even do it by telephone. or for another example of conceptual manipulation (pun intended), there is Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman.”

As it is for sex, so for other inherent needs, drives, or dispositions: nutritional, aggressive, egoistic, sociable, compassionate—whatever they are, they come under symbolic definition and thus cultural order. In the occurrence, aggression or domination may take the behavioral form of, say, the new Yorker’s response to “Have a nice day”—“don’t tell me what to do!” We war on the playing fields of eton, give battle with swear words and insults, dominate with gifts that cannot be reciprocated, or write scathing book reviews of academic adversaries. eskimos say gifts make slaves, as whips make dogs. But to think that, or to think our prover- bial opposite, that gifts make friends—a saying that like the eskimos’ goes against the grain of the prevailing economy—requires that we are born with “watery souls,” waiting to manifest our humanity for better or worse in the meaningful experiences of a particular way of life. not, however, as in our ancient philosophies and modern sciences, that we are condemned by an irresistible human nature to look to our own advantage at the cost of whomever it may concern and thus become menaces to our own social existence.

It’s all been a huge mistake. my modest conclusion is that Western civi- lization has been largely constructed on a mistaken idea of “human nature.” (sorry, beg your pardon; it was all a mistake.) It is probably true, however, that this mistaken idea of human nature endangers our existence.


92. Ferguson, an Essay on the history of civil society, edited by Fania oz-salzberger (cambridge: cambridge university Press, 1995). “If both the latest and earliest accounts col- lected from every quarter of the earth, represent mankind as assembled in troops and compa- nies; and the individual always joined by affection to one party, while he is possibly opposed to another; employed in the exercise of recollection and foresight; inclined to communicate his own sentiments, and to be acquainted with those of others; these facts must be admitted as the foundation of all our reasoning relative to man” (9).

93. seeLawrenceKrader,“Karlmarxasethnologist,transactionsofthenewYorkacad- emy of sciences, ser. 2, 35, no. 4 (1973); and his “critique dialectique de la nature humaine,” l’homme et al société, no. 10 (1968).

94. BernardG.campbell,JamesD.Loy,andKathryncruz-uribe,humankindEmerg- ing, 9th ed. (Boston: Pearson, allyn, and Bacon, 2006), 257 and passim.

95. Geertz,TheInterpretationofcultures(newYork:BasicBooks,1973),45.

96. strathern,GenderoftheGift,90.

97. Geertz,TheInterpretationofcultures,52–53,49.

98. We would know more of the variety of cultural conceptions of human nature if anthropologists had bothered to investigate them. curiously, inquiry into peoples’ ideas of human nature is not in the standard protocols of ethnographic fieldwork. There is no such category in the hallowed fieldwork manual notes and Queries in anthropology. In the Human relations area Files, it is a minor subcategory, rarely reported on. Is this neglect because we already know what human nature is? Because we think it is a scientific category, thus the intel- lectual concern of the anthropologists rather than their interlocutors? or maybe because the other peoples have no such concept and the question would be meaningless? Probably all of the above.



Human Nature 4

4.  Wozniak-Vygotsky-Piaget  on "human nature"


Wozniak

“For Vygotsky, the emphasis was on the constant process of transformation and reorganization, the formation of novel structures and the functioning of such structures in the further synthesis of even newer forms.  The similarity of this analysis to that of Piaget is evident” 14

“ . . .  Piaget and Vygotsky also took somewhat parallel routes—constructing developmental conceptions of mind/environment transaction . . .” 14

“sociality and historicity” p. 17 re. Sahlins et. al.

“In development, human nature is not simply socialized, it is transformed by society and history embedded in the very system of meanings by which humans make sense of their experience and action.”  p. 17  More!  also W. critiques V. on p. 17

on intersubjectivity  p. 22







Discussion of Brutes in Suits

2. Karl Marx on human nature: the dark side of species being

The effects of power deserve as much scrutiny as the strategies and structures of power.  The effects of power on the organism, and on the culture within which this organism must adapt to or challenge its condition of subjugation; the organism, not yet a subject, only becomes a subject in the context of this subjugation.  And this subject is not a "self," but is rather the form induced by the general historical situation, a mode of discourse, the site of management.

Brutes in suits attempts to understand the passion for war, and for related performances of masculinity (sport, hunting, lynching), in a way that eliminates the entire Nietzschean comprehension of homo sapiens' predicament, which is formulated variously by Freud and Klein







psuedo-speciation vs. racism



This concept of pseudo-speciation is the antithesis of the varieties of neo-racism that now permeate the semiosphere--for example, Nicholas Wade's neo-racist A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History* (Penguin Press, 2014), and Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending's neo-racist The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution (2009).  Serious neo-racist works, such as these, have three characteristics.  First, " . . . the authors employ an undefined and oftentimes arbitrary racial classificatory scheme, assume race to be a natural fact, use ethnocentric metrics to measure intelligence (but see Ceci's critique of the concept of intelligence) and attempt to lay the ground work for the racial classification of humanity by intelligence."**  Second, these works merely dress up in psuedo-scientific terms the dark side of neoliberalism--its racist mass appeal; and third our whole culture seems to be animated by a feverish hostility to understanding humans as extremely complex cultural historical, ontologically indeterminate organisms.  There are striking differences in cognitive and other behavioral phenomena among humans, but these have nothing to do with genes and everything to do with history and culture, culture and power, power and the reactions to power . . . and with politics.

Racism affirms that "character" and "intelligence" are inherited, whether through bloodline, race, or genes.  It makes little difference which of these a racist ideology relies on, for they all amount to a wholesale rejection of history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, biology, literature, educational theory.  In place of Dewey, Nietzsche, Freud and Vygotsky, the man in the street.

Indeed, one might say that the racist conception of human difference is not only intellectually null.  It is also a symptom of the primitive cognitive processes characteristic of racism.  This site takes the bull by the horns, and addresses human differences from a cultural-historical and a political perspective.  Taking the bull by the horns means goring not a few sacred cows.  When this is done
our number one sacred cow bites the dust--the  myth of the individual, the Cartesian self in a market economy (the self-evident ontological given and eternal truth of our being, the selfy self-same self)--and is replaced, as a first, and only first, approximation, by the Quantum Heterogeneity of Dasein: Five Genetic Ontologies

Jonathan Marks and others have critiqued the current manifestations of racist psuedo-science, and historians of science have described the manner in which popular myths and powerful interests combine to produce this psuedo-science.  The most touchy subject of all, however, is to actually account for the enormous variation among contemporary humans. 

And now, the myth of white supremacy is shattered before our eyes, as Donald Trump orchestrates a display of cognitive primitivism among the whitest of the white folk of America; as the best-selling Hillbilly Elegy --a revival of the soft-racist culture of poverty thesis***-- applies this thesis to the Trump base; and thus, an enormous segment of the "white" population that is now going under, decomposing, clinging all the more desperately to its mythic being, join the class of people who do not succeed because of the effects of their own dysfunctional culture.  How far under?  Donald Trump's totally unexpected success provides a clue.  Stay tuned.


*See Jonathan Marks' review and blog (anthropomics).  Also Geneticists say popular book misrepresents research on human evolution (Nature)

**from review by Cadell Last, Explorations in Anthropology, Vol.12, No. 1, pp. 120–123.

***Outcast London: A Study in the Relationship Between Classes in Victorian Society is a good antidote to this simplistic exclusion of history, politics and economics from thinking about poverty.






Habitus



Descola, pp. 93-98

Alice Munro, "Family Furnishings"

Review: Alice Munro's 'Family Furnishings' is deep and surprising 






Civic Republicanism . . . or Nihilism (1)



John Toland
Mah
Brandeis: two books on pol economy: alternate tracks (Berk & Perrow)

Cliff Williams et. al.

vs. nihilism



Civic Republicanism . . . or Nihilism (2)

on "life qua antithesis of civic republicanism" (on encountering Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life by Adam Phillips)

1.  book-Amazon-NYT article The Art of Vulgarity (August 15, 2016)
2. 
Failure to Thrive (3-12-15) and  Unequal, Yet Happy (4-11-15)
Unforbidden Pleasures (An ambitious book that speaks to the precariousness of modern life, Unforbidden Pleasures explores the philosophical, psychological, and social dynamics that govern human desire and shape our everyday reality.)

3.  TED talks: TED talks are lying to you, by Thomas Frank



. . .  other dimensions

Novels
Balzac, Mann, Bellow, Roth

Psychoanalysis
Nietzsche,
Freud, Lacan, Kohut, Alcorn

Journalism
New York Times

Non-fiction memoirs




on Marx(ism)(s)

from David Harvey's Webpage:

I also felt a pressing need to illustrate the contemporary relevance of Marx’s thinking for politics. This carried with it an obligation to identify not only what we might learn from Marx but what he had left incomplete, assumed away or simply (heaven forbid!) gotten wrong. It also entailed recognizing what was outdated in his thinking and what was not. The question that was very much on my mind was: What is it that reading Marx can teach us today and what is it that we have to do for ourselves to understand the world around us?

This brings us to the case of Seventeen Contradictions. In this work I had two main aims. The first was to define what anti-capitalism might entail. I thought this necessary because while many may claim to hold to an anti-capitalist political position, it is not at all clear what they might or ought to mean by this. The second, was to give rational reasons for becoming anti-capitalist in the light of the contemporary state of things.

Marx’s analyses of the inner contradictions of capital

What also emerges is a much more decentered picture of what capital is about than is normally portrayed

Finally, there are deeply troubling signs world-wide of what I call “universal alienation” in which the loss of meaning and of future possibilities in all aspects of physical and mental life (in the home as well as at work) produces inchoate and often strange forms of sociality and revolt. The proliferations of religious fundamentalisms and the rising menace of fascist revivals need to be taken seriously, turning civil society into a vast field of struggle over capital’s as well as humanity’s future, which only an ultra-militarized state apparatus seems at this time capable of controlling through brute force and astonishing technologies of surveillance and repression. Never has the choice between socialism and barbarism been more starkly posed at a historical conjuncture when the broad left has never been so weak. The imperative to be anti-capitalist and to stand up to the ultra-militarized state apparatuses that now dominate, butts up against “the globalization of indifference” and the confusions of skepticism and disbelief rooted in universal alienation.

then the hidden hand of the market (which Marx identified as the hidden hand of social labor) operates in such a way as to make personal identities, subjectivities, desires and intents irrelevant to the overall logic of capital accumulation.

In Volume One Marx defines value as socially necessary labour time but then inserts one sentence that says if there is no want, need, or desire (backed by ability to pay we later discover) then there is no value.

The result has been a bias in the history of Marxist thinking towards a “productivist” reading of Capital while questions of realization are treated as of secondary importance.

We only have to think of how contemporary consumerism works – fashion, advertising, rapid obsolescence, the political economy of spectacle (in which production and consumption are fused) – to see how technological and organizational innovations are marshaled to speed up life.

When financiers can fund the activities of housing developers as well as the demand for housing through the mortgage finance they offer, then the conditions for an asset bubble of the sort that formed around housing after 2001 are themselves realized. {pf: here I would argue that regression to the primate helps explain the actual behavior of economic actors--patrimonialism}


PF: in all this an implicit rejection of "man is the as yet undetermed animal"; "man is a bridge"; a failure to analyze desire rather than focus on the unjust thwarting of desire.  The organism as infinitely differentiable; as hapless blob;as rupture with civilization

what harvey misses is that the whole question revolves around agency.  It is not that people are fucked  over in various ways; it is that the very form of life now extant is incapable of anything but what we see . . . including Trump.

Paris
the cause of human emancipation (Paris, 14)

REVIEWS of Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion, by Gareth Stedman Jones

The Dialectical Man   (John Gray, Literary Review. August 2016)

The value of Karl Marx’s 19th century thinking in today’s world   (Mark Mazower, Financial Times, August 5, 2016)








An Ontology of the New Right

Joseph E. Lowndes, From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism (Yale Univesity Press, 2008)

see Miles, Carter

"foundational violence of modern Republicanism" (2)

"But it has not been easy for the GOP to shed its racial legacy because the party became dominant through racially inflected positions on poverty, crime, affirmative action, and government assistance." (2)  Atwater-Lacan signifying chain

critiques "backlash" theory, Edsall. 3

"Politics is not merely the realm where preexisting interests, grievances, and passions are given expression.  Rather, it is in and through politics that interests, grievances, and passions are forged and new collective identities created.  Backlash, the ideological cornerstone and justification for modern conservatism, masks what was a long-term process whereby various groups in different places and times attempted to link racism, anti-government populism, and economic conservatism into a discourse and institutional strategy through linguistic appeals, party-building, social movement organizing, and the exercise of state power.  In the process, the very interests and self-understanding of these groups were continually under construction as they moved from coalition to collective political identity.  As opposed to being entrenched and traditionalist (or reactionary, depending on one's politics),  the Right that developed is better viewed as contingent, mobile, and highly adaptive, constantly responding to changing conditions on the ground." 4-5

"Conservative Manifesto" 14 "including a balanced budget, tax reduction, a new labor policy, maintenance of states' rights and local self-government "14

See Atwater on signifying chain

"Republican moderates had prevailed in the party at the national level since the New Deal, with most of the party's presidential candidates supporting internationalism and the welfare state.  This wing was based in the Northeast and linked to Wall Street.  Conservatives in the party tended to be mid-western or western, identified with small business, isolationist, and opposed to nearly all aspects of the New Deal.  48  See Miles

"Wallace charged into this open political moment as a contradictory figure whose paradoxes were legion: as the simultaneous embodiment of the 'average citizen' and self-conscious caricature of a redneck, he was a politician with whom many Americans could identify
compare this with Trump re. proto-Dorian conventioneven as they differentiated themselves from his image.  He called for law and order, yet he never strayed from the spectacle of disruptive violence himself. . . .  Although he always claimed he was not a racist,  racial demonization was the cornerstone of his success." 77-78

"The making of new political orders is always tumultuous, because creating a new collective political identity requires the rending of people from old traditions and political identifications while producing new exclusions.  The fashioning of Wallace's antigovernment populism was a moment of founding violence for the modern Right in a way the Goldwater campaign was not, because it relied on politics outside of accepted norms or institutional party channels." 78

"The people [Wallace] attempted to bring together into a common identity were poor white southerners, working class urban ethnics, farmers, small business owners, and alienated suburbanites from across regions.  The positions he claimed to represent were also heterogeneous: states' rights, individual freedoms, law and order, anticommunism, economic libertarianism, and Protestant Christianity.  79

"Yet in order for Wallace supporters to see themselves as average citizens, their enemies had to be cast as the real outsiders; not people with whom they simply had political disagreements, but parasites on the national body.  In other words, in order to make his outsiders insiders, Wallace had to rhetorically connect the liberal center to those he described as unproductive and decadent.  Thus, as his rhetoric evolved, he invoked bureaucrats, 'permissive' judges, the ultra-wealthy, protesters, rioters, welfare recipients, and criminals alike as threats to the nation to establish a fundamental unity among the groups he claimed to represent. 79-80

"Wallace first gained national renown as a defender of segregation, but he soon abandoned open racial rhetoric.  Rather, he helped to create what is often referred to now as 'racial coding' by critics of the Right.  Generally overlooked in discussions of coding, however, is that the very act of translation--of using nonracial words and phrases to speak about matters of race-- changes the meaning of that which is being translated.  If audiences outside the Deep South required altered language, that could only reflect their ambivalence about racist politics; otherwise, why not simply openly appeal to racial sentiments?  In order to make race work for him nationally, Wallace hd to convince his audiences that race meant something else--it had to exceed its own boundaries and come to stand for a number of issues.  As a key term in an emergent chain of associations
See Atwater-Lacan on signifying chain, race both saturated and was masked by this new antigovernment populism." 81

[subhead: "Violence and the Paradox of Law and Order"]  {PF note: add Fantasy and its context}

    "Wallace and his aides understood early on that the protests and physical clashes generated by his rallies, far from being a hindrance, actually helped his cause.  Violence, both material and symbolic, has particular significance in the American context where the cultural meanings assigned to violence have defined and redefined the identity of the nation itself at critical moments.  'Law and Order' was a hallmark of Wallace's candidacies.  Yet at the same time, Wallace and his supporters were linked to violence themselves  in a number of ways, sometimes legally sanctioned, sometimes lawless.  The threat, anticipation, and performance of violence were all central to Wallace's image and political success.  As a candidate running against the system, against the two parties and the federal government, Wallace both evoked the specter of unchecked violence that threatened the American people and threatened violence on behalf of that same people." 87

"His critics charged that as a racist (or proto-fascist) Wallace hypocriticaly denounced violence while using it to maintain Jim Crow in Alabama and endorse a police state nationally.  The two assertions are essentially two side of the same coin.  Each maintained that Wallace's political goal was to uuphold the racial status quo in the South and put an end to demonstrations and riots around the nation.  But violence was not a means to a political end for Wallace; rather, it was constitutive of Wallace's politics itself, and a key ingredient of his appeal.  The combative opposition that Wallace and his supporters performed over the course of his carer helped define his political influence.  In his stand against federal authority, in his threats to run over demonstrators if they got in the way of his car, in his links to violent white supremacists, and in the fistfights at his rallies, Wallace and his supporters forged a new sense of us and them, drew new lines that defined new identities.  The extremety of ;this founding violence kept it from being hegemonic, but performed the political division that Wallace sought, and could help him and those he represented appear to be the real victims." 87-88

"From the stage, Wallace would invite hecklers to shout at him, even egging them on if they were too quiet.  He did not just invite attacks against himself; he incited crowd members against each other.  During his rallies he would build the tension until a clash became all but inevitable.  But through the use of humor, he was generaly able to keep fights from erupting outright.  For the audience, this perhaps provided a cathartic experience, an energetic disavowal of the enemy that deepened their identification wit his antigovernment racial populism."88

"In this book I analyze the meaning and effects of the speeches, writings, and private corresponence of actors in relation to the distinct political and institutional contexts in which they emerged, particularly the mediating institution of party.  This approach, which foregrounds the discursive basis of instititutions, provides a way of understanding how political regimes are created, altered, occasionally dismantled, and replaced by agents in new political conditions.  A focus on discourse foregrounds the real work of change that happens on the micro level.  It also demonstrates the mobility of language as it gets deployed and redeployed to both respond to and then reshape political realities on the ground.  This process lays bare the contingency of the various assemblages we come to call political order." 159

"Conservative legitimacy requires the fable that the rise of the Right was the inevitable return to first principles--as opposed to the eventual triumph of a particular coalition acheived through bitter conflict.  In this way the backlash narrative of the rise of the Right fails to disclose a key feature of the Right's eventual triumph.  The making of new political orders is a disruptive process that requires the successful definition of myriad others as threatening to the nation.  The act of defining the outside often exceeded the boundaries of normal politics and depended on the real and symbolic uses of demonization and even violence." 160-61


newdeal
George Monbiot  article  world parliament; from Wiki:

His fifth book, The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order, was published in 2003. The book is an attempt to set out a positive manifesto for change for the global justice movement. Monbiot criticises anarchism and Marxism, arguing that any possible solution to the world's inequalities must be rooted in a democratic parliamentary system. The four main changes to global governance which Monbiot argues for are a democratically elected world parliament which would pass resolutions on international issues; a democratised United Nations General Assembly to replace the unelected UN Security Council; the proposed International Clearing Union which would automatically discharge trade deficits and prevent the accumulation of debt; and a fair trade organisation which would regulate world trade in a way that protects the economies of poorer countries.[68]
behind/beneath this text <myth of the people, that haze of the unspoken unthought givenness of "man" at the core of philosophies of "liberation">



There is a skittishness of liberals and those to their left when it comes to dealing with cognitive "inequality" (a word which I almost never use because of its lack of specificity and its ideological and emotional loading, and do so here only for its shock value).  By specificity I mean the following:

from Merlin Donald, "The mind considered from a historical perspective: human cognitive phylogenesis and the possibility of continuing cognitive evolution." In D. Johnson & C. Ermeling (Eds.) The Future of the Cognitive Revolution (Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 360-61

"mimetic representations are evident in human children before they acquire language competence. . . .  They continue to be important in adults, taking the form of highly variable social customs, athletic skills, and group expressive patterns (such as mass demonstrations of aggression or rejection)."

and from Merlin Donald, A Mind So Rare:

 . . . modern culture contains within it a trace of each of our previous stages of cognitive evolution.  It still rests on the same old primate brain capacity for episodic or event knowledge.  But it has three additional, uniquely human layers: a mimetic layer, an oral-linguistic layer, and an external-symbolic layer.  The minds of individuals reflect these three ways of representing reality.  (p. 262)

The technical means for distinguishing between cognitive modalities has been provided by Piaget in his concept of stages of development (sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operational).  For example:

from Anthony Orton, Learning Mathematics: Issues, Theory, and Classroom Practice (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004)

"Nevertheless, the terminology 'concrete operations', 'formal operations', is still apparently found to be useful by those reporting on empirical research, and by many who write about child development and curriculum reform"  p. 68.


and from Michael Cole, The Development of Children (W. H. Freeman and Co, 1996), p. 485

"R. Murray Thomas illustrates the difference between concrete operations and formal operations (which are said to appear in early adolescence) with the following two questions:

Concrete: If Alice has two apples and Caroline gives her three more, how many will there be?

Formal: Imagine that there are two quantities which together make up a whole.  If we increase the first quantitity but the whole remains the same, what has happened to the second quantity? 

Hugh Rosen, Piagetian Dimensions of Clinical Relevance (Columbia University Press, 1985) extends Piaget's work into the areas of everyday life and psychotherapy.
---------------
Concrete Universal

Findlay, Simondon

Absolute 

Casirrer, Simondon (re Bardin p. 230

What is to be done presupposes a subject who does the doing, and that from the standpoint of the needs or interests of said subject.  Once it was "the people."  Then it was "the proletariat."  More recently it was the hodge-podge, the potpurri, the grab-bag of victim groups--Every text on the "left,"  produced in the era of neo-liberalism, is on the hunt for a new class with radical chains.  The utter futility of such efforts is no deterrent. 


envy, greed, and revenge: how does this fit in with Lacan/Verhaeghe?

What is missing from the psychological pantheon of Lacan-Deleuze et. al. is Kohut-Alcorn et. al.  N=64 is unintelligible if we exclude these latter texts.