From: Andrew Pollock <ahpollock@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 23:19:56 +0100
Darren Smith wrote:
>This is nothing more than a typical semantic and bourgouis way of
>approaching the issue. Again, let's talk about it. Let's theorise. Let's
>define and set parameters. Resistance is not vaild if it is not rational.
>This means that nobody outside of the established grouping of the educatesd
>cannot critique it because they are just not smart enough. But, sorry, they
>The problem is, of course, that, like existentialism,
>postmodernism cannot be critiqued outside of itself. When it is shown to be
>contradictory or hypocritical then "that's what postmodernism has been
>trying to say all along". One cannot win.
I know I wrote a long post earlier, but I didn't address this particular
aspect of the standard critique of post-modernism, and I had wanted to. We
are in fact talking about philosophy, not about protest against political
wrongs or social injustices; those things are also discussed in philosphy,
but the two fields are not the same. I have yet to read a post-modern
philosopher who claims that direct and specific political action is
anethema. On the contrary, many have developed their most salient thought
out of just such protest (cf Deleuze and '68, Anti-Oedipus/1000 Plateaux).
Here we can see that Deleuze's point is precisely that resistance is most
valid when it's not rational.
The real issue represented here, as I see it, is a particular priviledging
of discourses. I hate to be personal, but I'm not sure how far beyond The
Communist Manifesto Mr. Smith has read if he considers Marx and easy read.
One also sees similar arguments on Phil-Lit, the moderator of which brings
you the Bad Writing award discussed earlier, where somehow Kant is held up
as the epitome of clear and easy reading. It is as if certain writers have
been assimilated, and are therefore deemed easy: enough secondary work has
been done that everyone knows what is at issue, and reading Kant or Marx is
either not done, or is so pre-digested that it isn't difficult. I'm sorry,
but I can't really accept this argument. We are doing philosophy here, not
teaching kindergarten. The texts are difficult, but they're also
rewarding, and one hopes for some correlation between the two states.
There's nothing wrong with easy reading, I do quite a bit of it, but lets
not confuse any of the thinkers we're discussing with that type of reading.
>One cannot win.
Perhaps one should stop trying so hard. Is political engagement necessary?
Most definately. Is thinking about capital/power/injustice/identity
necessary? Of course. Are significant questions best answered with one
totalizing claim to the truth? Of course not.