New Princedoms II

— or: Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science

Of course, now I could state: what I wrote earlier on the New Princedoms had been just a prolegomena, and I could even be much bolder, claiming what follows is not less than a new “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science”, the one that had been presented by Kant in 1783, surely in need of some update.

But in actual fact both, modesty, honesty and realism require that I admit that I only heard about it yesterday evening, having been asked

Hai sentito dell’ archeologo del sito di Palmira? … Era in pensione, ma era rimasto al suo posto dando la vita per la Bellezza e per il suo lavoro, a cui aveva dedicato tutto sé stesso.

Checking then a day later the WWW, I soon found a bit more about what happened, namely

The killing of Khaled Asaad

Siria: perché l’Isis ha ucciso l’archeologo di Palmira

I am not in a position to engage in depth — perhaps as I am a non-religious and non-fundamentalist person, not seeing myself in a position to comment on the details, not being able to clearly distinguish between the broad lines and the distracting details. Still, there is a bit that I can say.

The article mentions five reasons — and I am wondering if it is not just one reason that is relevant: the change of the foundation of the old world order: a world order in which difference had been defined and accepted, inequalities being taking for granted and clearly defined — some will remember the cartoon of the 1960 and early 70s, wasn’t it a Chinese one: showing the pulling of hair down the line, the cat being the last in the row that started from the accepted authority. Wondering means: not knowing, asking, or even more: going on in searching the question, namely the non-technical one. Just like Stephen Hawking who asked

In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?

and continuing:

I don’t know the answer. That is why I asked the question.

Coming back to the article on the murder of Khaled Asaad, it brings us at the end to part of the question that has to be asked, looking for all those who stated earlier

Je suis Charlie

and who are silent now.

One problem is obviously a matter of information, or to be precise: the two matters of information. The one is that the information overflow goes hand in hand with non-recognition; the other is the way of selection: you can’t have it all. It is our own limitation and it is …, well, that is the second part: the process of directing attention by algorithms, defined by the powerful.

When browsing the Panorama further on “L’Isis e la guerra al terrorismo islamico” — and I will not go into details; furthermore, picking the Panorama is due to laziness, due to accepting the guide of some http://www.engine.algorithm, which will bring you probably to something similar in the place that big brother determines as “your country” — something had been …, well I could say, surprising:

  • many/most of the news are about violence, are presenting sad and “unbelievable” stories
  • many/most of the news are presenting some form of “weighing” — cynically one may say: the life of a person does not count much, the life of a woman or child, and of course: even more the lives of women and children counts much more, if there are enough men it counts too, or if there are such exceptional people as Khaled Asaad — and from what I know by now, he really was exceptional
  • many/most of the stories are marked in some strange way, looking at the reporting, by a contradiction: the “colorful” way of writing about the horrors is accompanied by the black-and-white-presentation of the good and the bad. And indeed it remains difficult to say “Je suis Charlie” in a world of which the actual struggle seems to be very much the old one, fought not during the Risorgimento. Those times seemed to be clear — to quote Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel The Leopard:

“Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga com’è bisogna che tutto cambi.”

i.e.

“Things must change, in order that they can stay the same.”

A nice saying, though really important is the context. The words are spoken by Tancredi, following his statement

Unless we ourselves take a hand now, they’ll foist a republic on us.

And the entire story is about the disintegration.

But WHAT disintegrated? We may look at the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies — Il Regno delle Due Sicilie; and we may also look at the different types of government, royalty standing against republic ecc. .

It is easy to overlook that all this had been — here and (at least) in all the European countries at the time — an expression of fundamental changes of the economic system …. — but now I am hesitating, or I am afraid, coming too close to figures. As said previously

If we want to look at figures, we should look at figures that are relevant: unemployment rates, orientation of economic policies on national performance instead of global responsibility, the privatisation of hospitals and the subsequent maltreatment of patients and staff, the Making of the Migration Crisis, going hand in hand with fears of extinction of nations, prices that make accommodation unaffordable, thus opening space for speculation and leaving places prone to alienation by different forms of ghettoisation …

But the meaning of this can only be understood when we read it against what Engels stated:

According to the materialistic conception, the determining factor in history is, in the last resort, the production and reproduction of the immediate life. But this itself is again of a twofold character. On the one side, the production of the means of subsistence, of food and clothing and shelter and the implements required for this; on the other, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species. The social institutions under which men of a definite historical epoch and of a particular country live are determined by both kinds of production: by the stage of development of labour, on the one hand, and of the family, on the other.

(Engels, Frederick, 1884: Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State. Preface [to the First Edition]; in: Karl Marx Frederick Engels. Collected Works. Volume 26. Frederick Engels. 1882-89; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1990: 131-133: 131 f.)

The figures — of course important, and of course important as indicating main problems — are at the same time (potentially) misleading as they fall short of grasping the really relevant aspect of

the production and reproduction of the immediate life

As especially the reference to the Making of the Migration Crisis shows, they are very much about the production and reproduction of the immediate life under very specific capitalist conditions. And these capitalist conditions. And with this, there is very little hope for a Vatican Spring, a remark that is not directed against setting up a broad movement of very different forces; but it is directed against the reliance on value systems, appeals and hopes that are not clearly addressing capitalism and reduced the critique on “this capitalism”.

Approaching “this capitalism” has to look fundamentally at the following, something I elaborated on a different occasion — it is very much a translation from a text originally written in German

1. The discussion of the current crisis remains trapped in the old tracks — and it is often just looking at the glass, asking if it is half-empty or half-full, at the end being oriented on re-establishing a status-quo ante. This is in many cases also true in cases where critique is brought forward with the claim of fundamentally rejecting of the existing system. However, when talking about a structural crisis, the question must be whether the glass is actually completely broken. …

2. The current challenge is then to look at the crisis of the hegemonic system. If this is seen as power of ideas, it should also be emphasised that the so-called neoliberalism reflects a one-sided interpretation of the objective conditions and not simply a voluntary statement of values of a self-proclaimed ruling-class. …). We need … a courageous utopia that is based in the objectively given conditions of the productive forces and the real potential, and partly implicitly realised in the existing forms of socialisation.

3. The “limits to growth” are not simply a matter of discussing the negative constellations; it is necessary to consider the wider context, allowing to understand the limits of growth in the context of the ongoing limits to limitations that are to a large extent directly and causally related. We are talking about increasing inequalities, which are much more extensive than shown by Piketty: It is still the question of the (lack of) access to basic resources such as water, nutrition, housing, etc., all this increasingly a problem in all societies.

4. Finally, politics are always made for an uncertain future – risks should not result in paralysis nor lead to excessive adjustments.

Looking from this angle, the war against evil is a kind of Hobbesian Bellum omnium contra Omnes. However, we have to observe fake and original — as we are now dealing with a new dimension, going far beyond the individualist stance proposed by Hobbes. Today’s war is taking place in the gabbia di matti, the place where confusion reigns: individuals against individuals are still fighting, as much as we are also facing wars of states against states. However, in addition we find the “war of citizens against citizens” — even if the citizens are split personalities, fighting against each other — well-known from role-theory: and it is the war of the consumption citizens, active citizens, citizens of nation states, citizens of associations against the consumption citizens, active citizens, citizens of nation states, citizens of associations — it least the war of everybody against him and herself … . And to make it easier to bear it, it may be and will be a war of the consumption citizens, active citizens, citizens of nation states, citizens of associations against the consumption citizens, active citizens, citizens of other nation states, citizens of associations of other countries.

Not so much that changed, one may say — and it is true although the change is fundamental insofar the borders actually do not work anymore. Of course, it is not entirely clear if and in which way they actually worked in previous ages and eras. But at least there had been some stability over time. In terms of regulation theory, we look at accumulation regimes as

[a] particular combination of production and consumption which can be reproduced over time despite conflictual tendencies (Jessop)

and modes of regulation as

[a]n institutional ensemble and complex of norms which can secure capitalist reproduction pro tempore despite the antagonistic character of capitalist social relations (Jessop)

When we look closely the possibility of “reproduction over time despite conflictual tendencies” is broken — not globalisation as such requires a new definition of borders and rule(r)s. Instead, the fact that globalisation becomes increasingly real, defends such requirement. The end of history — this has been stated for many times — is the beginning of a new era, rightly characterised by Antonio Gramsci, contending that

[t]he crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

Walls are erected, to maintain the old borders: States against states — interestingly nations defining themselves as ultimate external border as in the Hungarian case; different fundamentalists each claiming to be the better of the people of god, the one wanting to capture Istanbul, the Turks claiming that their fence is about keeping “them” out, joined by the big brother across the great ocean, but actually aiming against the Kurds and the “old fight”, now being combined with a seemingly new one.

And all the other walls (see also here for one that is often misunderstood) and fences as the many in Latin America and against Latin America … the main wall still waiting to be lifted: the embargo against Cuba. And. with all this we easily forget the one of utmost important, the wall that is much more than the namegiver to a street,  that a major, the real divide of the world, for so many the wall against which they stand while being executed, listening to the song that speaks about Killing me softly.

As Max Weber stated 1919 in “Politics as a Vocation”

Every state is founded on force,’ said Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk. That is indeed right. If no social institutions existed which knew the use of violence, then the concept of ‘state’ would be eliminated, and a condition would emerge that could be designated as ‘anarchy,’ in the specific sense of this word. Of course, force is certainly not the normal or the only means of the state — nobody says that — but force is a means specific to the state. Today the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the most varied institutions — beginning with the sib — have known the use of physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Note that ‘territory’ is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the ‘right’ to use violence. Hence, ‘politics’ for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state.

Sure, it is easy to point on the walls of shame — many others could be added, including the “virtual walls” by European migration polices along the Mediterraneans. It is not so easy to acknowledge that there is another wall that actually establishes the foundation of shame: This is the wall of fame. Well, here the plural applies too

Universities, striving for excellence, expressed in ranking lists, causing a suicide of social science (irony that this article is only accessible for the academic insiders, those in the safe heaven of the ivory towers of academia); the mentioned celebration of little starlets that feel their marriage threatened by working time of 20 days per year; broken-up politicians establishing a Forced Choice Between ‘Suicide or Execution’. And other politicians cynically mocking

“You shouldn’t commit suicide because you’re afraid of dying,” the commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker said. “You should say ‘yes’ regardless of what the question is.”

 

Well, how can we then try to understand what cannot be understood? Now, a renaissance has usually two sides, it consists of the character of dialectics as matter of maintaining and overturning.

Returning to the five reasons mentioned above, trying to put them into one nutshell (while remaining alert — such attempt is always as tempting as it is dangerous) we may take home what Hegel states in the Philosophy of Right, namely in § 258:

Rationality, taken generally and in the abstract, consists in the thorough-going unity of the universal and the single.

Such “universal and single” cannot consist in the dishonest erection of walls of fame that evoke equally dishonest walls of shame.

One does not have to live in Rome (though it may help) to appreciate una vita per la bellezza — the appreciation of beauty, not only as e(x)ternal phenomenon but even more as matter of a state of life.

 

Another quick turn to Hegel, who wrote in § 257

The state is the actuality of the ethical Idea. It is ethical mind qua the substantial will manifest and revealed to itself, knowing and thinking itself, accomplishing what it knows and in so far as it knows it. The state exists immediately in custom, mediately in individual self-consciousness, knowledge, and activity, while self-consciousness in virtue of its sentiment towards the state, finds in the state, as its essence and the end-product of its activity, its substantive freedom.

But if the actual state has nothing else to do than permanently driving wedges between people and peoples, if sovereignty is undermined by confronting the sovereign with the decision between suicide and execution, it will be difficult to find a solution. If a Coalition (of the Radical Left – Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς, ΣΥΡΙΖΑ (Syriza)) is forced to loose (even if they may win another election), the unity as Λαϊκή Ενότητα (Laiki Enotita), the Popular Unity may be forced to go its own way.

It surely is an important point that had been mentioned in a recent TeleSur-article

the one thing that we can continue to look for in Greece is that anti-austerity movement is coming from the streets and communities.

The challenge is to bring the various communities from across the globe going the same direction, not as they usually did: along the Rabbit-Proof Fence, erected against humans degraded to animals, themselves degrading

So, if we turn down the real fences, the fences that imprison the minds will fall — we only have to make sure that the minds have to set free, allowing to turn down the fences. And if we look around, if we look at people helping migrants, caring for others, and fighting for and with others we may manage to really turn them down and use the huge potentials that we do have.

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