Re: Poststructualism, ethics and values

>> (I must say
>> that in this thread I have been wondering if there has been a tension
>> between the more "purist" philosophers/theorists and those of us on the
>> "applied" social science side of the fence. As my interest is policy
>> studies, and as I work as a policy hack in the public sector, my interest is
>> on the "ought/doing/solutions" side of things rather than the
>> "is/being/critique" side of things).
>Bryan, to me it's not a matter of "purism" vs "non-purism", but of your
>trying to apply to "policy hacking" modes of thinking whose very lifeblood,
>so to speak, is that they are _against_ the notion of policy-making,
>of speaking for others, of reforming existing institutions. T

Sounds like the kind of paralysis I was hoping to avoid.

>he fact that
>Foucault, say, does not speak in ways from which one could derive "policy
>arguments" is not a weekness, neglect, hypocrisy, or passing childhood
>desease. Deleuze said of Foucault: you have made us aware of the profound
>indignity of speaking for others. If you are into policy-hacking, then
>you're simply doing a very, very different kind of politics than these guys.
>Their interest is definitely in _doing_, their thought is always a mode of
>"doing", but definitely not in the kind of "doing" you want to do.

It is these modes of "doing" that I am trying to touch base with. It is
also the role of the state (and indirectly policy hacks like me) under
post-s that I am trying to discern. I am absolutely pursuaded that (for
example) radical feminist post-structuralists envision a different world to
what we have to today. While they eschew the liberal post-structuralists
for collaborating with the State, what is unclear about the processes by
which they see change should occur (be driven); and how that is (and will
always be) separate from the State.

Ironically, I was talking to a number of my work collegues about this debate
at lunch today. They all said that while postmodernism was fun at
university, working in the public sector forces you back to modernism. When
the Minister asks, "what shall I do in this situation"; there isn't an
obvious response that begins, "Well a poststructuralist analysis of this
situation would lead you to . . ." Well not a politcally acceptable (vote
winning) response within the confines of a modern Western liberal democracy.

>I think that one can probably realize this, learn from it, and still want to
>be a policy-hacker, but judging from this thread's blithe wavings-around of
>"optimism" (vs the supposed "pessimism" of post-struct) and the need for
>"values", as well the facile and misguided declarations that post-struct
>teaches "value relativism", no such realization and learning-from are present.

So it would seem.

Bryan Palmer
Canberra - Australia's National Capital


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