Ian andrews on Thu, 1 Nov 2001 19:52:31 +0100 (CET)

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RE: <nettime> the myth of democracy + christianity

>There is no equating counter globalisation protesters (which is, to
>say the least, a very hetrogeneous mix of bodies, groups, peoples,
>organisations, movements, etc) with those that would institute some
>form of 'fascistic' rule - right wing christians, neo-liberalists,
>fascists, etc. The two 'groupings' aims run completely counter to one

Nik, you have totally missed my point. At no time have I ever suggested such a
thing. You are grossly oversimplifiying my argument and misrepresenting me in
the process. What I am saying is that there appears to me to be a limitation
within the thinking of the various groups (not all) that constitute the
counter-globalisation movements. This limitation involves an inability of the
groups to theorise themselves in relation to the state (or authority in
general),in a way other than in terms of a simple opposition. This tendency has
been around for quite a while in leftist politics (you are right to say that
anarchism is a particulaly vague term, which is why I purposely avoided it).
The fact that this same simple opposition to authority, and the state, is
shared by certain born-again Christian groups was my point. Now, examine the
reasons why the two groupings' aims run counter to one another. Putting it very
simply, one group supports the rights of the powerless, oppressed minorities
and their difference, while the other vilifys them.  The group that supports
the rights of others does so by managing to get legislation passed which aims
at protecting the rights of the others. I can't think of an example where the
same result has been acheived in any other way. So the question is, how can
this protection of others be instituted without the resort to some form of
authority? Surely you can see from this rather simple example that the problem
is not an easy one. I'm not saying that it is not possible but it is a problem
that will involve some thought. The examination of some democratic processes,
in the hope that we might find some useful tools that may help in thinking this
problem through, is in my opinion a good place to start. Of course the ideal
democracy is a myth. No one here, neither Kermit or Marcus or myself has said
anything to the contrary. Of course there has never been a "real" democracy.
None of us have ever suggested that there has been, or that we should return to
some mythological past. But the slogan "democracy is a myth," should not be
used as a device to limit any further thought in its direction.

The other question you must look at is how to manage direct participation.  You
must first look at what seperates it from mob rule, otherwise you may be
placing your bets on a kind of fluffy (and maybe even dangerous) idealism.

A good place to start might be Spinoza's materialism (in particular the
_Tractatus Theologico-Politicus_). Spinoza is a favourite of Negri and, of
course, Deleuze, who sees him as part of a counter tradition of dissenters and
(anti-Aristotlian)freaks, including Machiavelli, Nietzche, Marx and Freud, as
opposed to the bougeois tradition of Hobbes, Kant, Hegel, etc.  These two
philosophers see in Spinoza the possibility of a radical materialism that
dispenses with Hegelian teleology. Spinoza puts forward the suggestion that we
are all part of a materialist collectivity. In doing this he rejects the
Cartesian mind (soul) and body split. This eventuates in a theory of
subjectivity radically different from bourgeois individualism (the basic theory
of neo-liberalism). It is from here that Deleuze and Guattari take their
concept of "machinic assemblages." It is interesting to note that the last
thing that Spinoza wrote about, and left unfinished, was democracy.

But I still have problems with both Negri and D&G. With D&G (who I am more
familiar with) it is not their direction, but rather their methodology that I
find problematic. For instance, _Anti-Oedipus_ is a very different book than
_1000 Plateaux_. The first is a playful, irreverant Dionysian punk rant against
the monoliths of Hegel, Marx and a certain Freud. This text resists an
authoritative reading, and it a mistake made by many to do what can't be done -
ie. to hold it up as an authoritative text. _1000 Plateaux_, on the other hand,
is much more authoritative (though it pretends not to be).  It constantly
builds concepts that, although they attempt to be fluid and non-hierarchic
(rhizomatic), can't help solidifying.  This is where I find Derridean
deconstruction useful. It finds a way to make use of a concept while, at the
same time, not allowing that concept to settle into a hierarchy of knowledge.
It does this by carefully and rigorously describing what it does, at the time
of doing it - its basic premise is that there is no transcendental idea,
outside of language - "there is nothing outside the text." But deconstruction
always ends in aporias.  It casts everything into doubt. We need to think the
next step, which necessarily includes deconstruction and not its abandonment,
as well as continuing the trajectory of Spinoza, Nietzshe, Marx and Freud. A
certain spirit of the Enlightenment, and a reconfiguration of certain
democratic ideas might be useful here. That, and NOT an attack on activism, has
been the gist of my last three posts.

Ian Andrews
Metro Screen

Email: i.andrews@metroscreen.com.au
1981 - 2001 Metro Screen is a celebrating 20 years of access and
innovation in independent screen production.

Metro Screen
Sydney Film Centre
Paddington Town Hall
P.O. Box 299
Paddington NSW 2021
Ph : 612 9361 5318
Fax: 612 9361 5320

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