Saturday, 30 December 2000
[…] the old definition, in phraseological variants, is always repeated: Sovereignty is the highest, legally independent, underived power […] It utilizes the superlative, “the highest power,” to characterize a true quantity, even though from the standpoint of reality, which is governed by the law of causality, no single factor can be picked out and accorded such a superlative. In political reality there is no irresistible highest or greatest power that operates according to the certainty of natural law.
Tuesday, 26 December 2000
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
What is it women do in men require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
About her head I writhing hung,
And with rich clusters (hid among
The leaves) her temples I behung
Both robbed of air, we both lie in one ground,
Both whom one fire had burnt, one water drowned.
But now, uncertain of the length
Of this, that is between,
It goads me, like the Goblin Bee—
That will not state—its sting.
Monday, 25 December 2000
Sometimes it suits me better to invent
A tale from my own heart, more near akin
To my own passions and habitual thoughts;
Some variegated story, in the main
Lofty, but the unsubstantial structure melts
Before the very sun that brightens it,
Mist into air dissolving! Then a wish,
My last and favourite aspiration, mounts
With yearning toward some philosophic song
Of Truth that cherishes our daily life;
With meditations passionate from deep
Recesses in man's heart, immortal verse
Thoughtfully fitted to the Orphean lyre;
But from this awful burthen I full soon
Take refuge and beguile myself with trust
That mellower years will bring a riper mind
And clearer insight. Thus my days are past
In contradiction; with no skill to part
Vague longing, haply bred by want of power,
From paramount impulse not to be withstood,
A timorous capacity, from prudence,
From circumspection, infinite delay.
Humility and modest awe, themselves
Betray me, serving often for a cloak
To a more subtle selfishness; that now
Locks every function up in blank reserve,
Now dupes me, trusting to an anxious eye
That with intrusive restlessness beats off
Simplicity and self-presented truth.
Ah! better far than this, to stray about
Voluptuously through fields and rural walks,
And ask no record of the hours, resigned
To vacant musing, unreproved neglect
Of all things, and deliberate holiday.
Far better never to have heard the name
Of zeal and just ambition, than to live
Baffled and plagued by a mind that every hour
Turns recreant to her task; takes heart again,
Then feels immediately some hollow thought
Hang like an interdict upon her hopes.
This is my lot; for either still I find
Some imperfection in the chosen theme,
Or see of absolute accomplishment
Much wanting, so much wanting, in myself,
That I recoil and droop, and seek repose
In listlessness from vain perplexity,
Unprofitably travelling toward the grave,
Like a false steward who hath much received
And renders nothing back.
[...] an actor's billing (where his or her name appears in the roll of credits) indicates role size or importance. The actor whose name appears first is said to have “top billing,” and actors whose names appear before the film's title have “above-the-title billing.” Sometimes “last billing” (having one’s name come up last) is reserved for a special appearance or celebrity. Such conventions relate to contractual agreements and reflect the salaries or the celebrity status of these people [...]
Saturday, 23 December 2000
A generation ago, an obscure revolutionary group calling themselves Situationists inspired anti-capitalist riots that shook the capitals of Europe.
The Situationists were a small and exclusive sect, which claimed to possess a unique perspective on the world. In reality their view of things was a mélange of nineteenth-century revolutionary theories and twentieth-century vanguardist art. They took many of their ideas from anarchism and Marxism, Surrealism and Dada. But their most audacious borrowings were from a late-medieval sodality of mystical anarchists, the Brethren of the Free Spirit.
The Situationists were heirs to a fraternity of adepts that extended across much of medieval Europe, and which – depite unceasing persecution – persisted as an identifiable tradition for over five hundred years. The Situationists’ dream was the same as that of this millenarian cult – a society in which all things were held in common and no one was forced to work. In the early sixties, they enlivened student protests in Strasbourg with quotes from the medieval revolutionaries. During the events of 1968, they scrawled similar graffiti on the walls of Paris. Among the most memorable of these was Never work!
Like the Brethren of the Free Spirit, the Situationists dreamt of a world in which labour had given way to play. As one of them, Raoul Vaneigem, wrote: ‘Taking into account my time and the objective help it gives me, have I said any more in the twentieth century than the Brethren of the Free Spirit declared in the thirteenth?’ Vaneigem was right to see modern revolutionary movements as heir to the mystical anarchist cults of the Middle Ages. In both cases, their goals came not from science, but from the eschatological fantasies of religion.
Marx scorned utopianism as unscientific. But if ‘scientific socialism’ resembles any science, it is alchemy. Along with other Enlightenment thinkers, Marx believed that technology could transmute the base metal of human nature into gold. In the communist society of the future, there was to be no limit on the growth of production or the expansion of human numbers. With the abolition of scarcity, private property, the family, the state and the division of labour would disappear.
Marx imagined the end of scarcity would bring the end of history. He could not bring himself to see that a world without scarcity had already been achieved – in the prehistoric societies that he and Engels lumped together as ‘primitive communism’. Hunter-gatherers were less burdened by labour than the majority of mankind at any later stage, but their sparse communities were completely dependent on the Earth’s bounty. Natural catastrophe could wipe them out at any time.
Marx could not accept the constraint that was the price of the hunter-gatherers’ freedom. Instead, animated by the faith that humans are destined to master the Earth, he insisted that freedom from labour could be achieved without any restraints on their desires. This was only the Brethren of the Free Spirit’s apocalyptic fantasy returning as an Enlightenment utopia.
Friday, 22 December 2000
In the polarised world of contemporary poetry, the 'linguistically innovative' or (loosely) Modernist tradition is so often justified in terms of weightiness or political relevance. Though poetry that deals in 'lightness' may be much appreciated, as is the case with stretchers or the work of Tim Atkins or Mike Weller, there seems to be a problem for critical discourse in writing up this quality as something other than insubstantiality. Edmund Hardy's review of stretchers [...] makes the point by reading Hilson -- misguidedly to these ears -- through Heidegger. This approach seems to me to suggest a sort of metaphysical neediness, an embarrassment of criticism faced with the absence of a grand narrative with which to gloss (over) the errant and paratactic.
Andrea Brady writes poetry in which the demographic and technological contexts for the choosing of names are brought to the fore and made part of a general consideration of the use of signs, poetry in which the violence of political manipulation is seen in the violence done to syntactical norms, but in which nonetheless there is semantic coherence. I do not mean to suggest that there are strictly definable norms for figuration in English, nor that departure from such norms would always best be described as violence, nor that all utterances possess an identical degree of semantic coherence. A basic distinction might be made, for instance, between a violence parallel to political manipulation, and a violence that is resistant to political manipulation; another between intrinsic and extrinsic semantic coherence. It is in the dynamics between these kinds of violence that Brady's poetry operates, in a manner that is exemplary both in ethical and artistic terms. Brady's poetry may have no significant corrective effect on world politics, but it is part of the artistic and political work of international citizenship that literature can contribute to culture at large.
Thursday, 21 December 2000
How stands the truth of things? That there are no such things as natural rights -- no such things as rights anterior to the establishment of government -- no such things as natural rights opposed to, in contradistinction to, legal: that the expression is merely figurative; that when used, in the moment you attempt to give it a literal meaning it leads to error, and to that sort of error that leads to mischief -- to the extremity of mischief.
We know what it is for men to live without government -- and living without government, to live without rights: we know what it is for men to live without government, for we see instances of such a way of life -- we see it in many savage nations, or rather races of mankind [...]
In proportion to the want of happiness resulting from the want of rights, a reason exists for wishing that there were such things as rights. But reasons for wishing there were such things as rights, are not rights; -- a reason for wishing that a certain right were established, is not that right -- want is not supply -- hunger is not bread.
[...] He that transferreth any right transferreth the means of enjoying it, as far as lieth in his power. As he that selleth land is understood to transfer the herbage and whatsoever grows upon it; nor can he that sells a mill turn away the stream that drives it. And they that give to a man the right of government in sovereignty are understood to give him the right of levying money to maintain soldiers, and of appointing magistrates for the administration of justice.
To make covenants with brute beasts is impossible, because not understanding our speech, they understand not, nor accept of any translation of right, nor can translate any right to another: and without mutual acceptation, there is no covenant.
Whensoever a man transferreth his right, or renounceth it, it is either in consideration of some right reciprocally transferred to himself, or for some other good he hopeth for thereby. For it is a voluntary act: and of the voluntary acts of every man, the object is some good to himself. And therefore there be some rights which no man can be understood by any words, or other signs, to have abandoned or transferred. As first a man cannot lay down the right of resisting them that assault him by force to take away his life, because he cannot be understood to aim thereby at any good to himself. The same may be said of wounds, and chains, and imprisonment, both because there is no benefit consequent to such patience, as there is to the patience of suffering another to be wounded or imprisoned, as also because a man cannot tell when he seeth men proceed against him by violence whether they intend his death or not. And lastly the motive and end for which this renouncing and transferring of right is introduced is nothing else but the security of a man's person, in his life, and in the means of so preserving life as not to be weary of it. And therefore if a man by words, or other signs, seem to despoil himself of the end for which those signs were intended, he is not to be understood as if he meant it, or that it was his will, but that he was ignorant of how such words and actions were to be interpreted.
It may seem strange to some man that has not well weighed these things that Nature should thus dissociate and render men apt to invade and destroy one another: and he may therefore, not trusting to this inference, made from the passions, desire perhaps to have the same confirmed by experience. Let him therefore consider with himself: when taking a journey, he arms himself and seeks to go well accompanied; when going to sleep, he locks his doors; when even in his house he locks his chests; and this when he knows there be laws and public officers, armed, to revenge all injuries shall be done him; what opinion he has of his fellow subjects, when he rides armed; of his fellow citizens, when he locks his doors; and of his children, and servants, when he locks his chests. Does he not there as much accuse mankind by his actions as I do by my words? But neither of us accuse man's nature in it. The desires, and other passions of man, are in themselves no sin. No more are the actions that proceed from those passions till they know a law that forbids them; which till laws be made they cannot know, nor can any law be made till they have agreed upon the person that shall make it.
Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory.
The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for reputation. The first use violence, to make themselves masters of other men's persons, wives, children, and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name.
Again, men have no pleasure (but on the contrary a great deal of grief) in keeping company where there is no power able to overawe them all. For every man looketh that his companion should value him at the same rate he sets upon himself, and upon all signs of contempt or undervaluing naturally endeavours, as far as he dares (which amongst them that have no common power to keep them in quiet is far enough to make them destroy each other), to extort a greater value from his contemners, by damage; and from others, by the example.
[...] Nothing is more spiritual than a perfect bag in the window of Dior or Chanel [...]
Tuesday, 12 December 2000
There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will; the latter considers only the common interest, while the former takes private interest into account, and is no more than a sum of particular wills: but take away from these same wills the pluses and minuses that cancel one another, [...] and the general will remains as the sum of the differences.
If, when the people, being furnished with adequate information, held its deliberations, the citizens had no communication one with another, the grand total of the small differences would always give the general will, and the decision would always be good. But when factions arise, and partial associations are formed at the expense of the great association, the will of each of these associations becomes general in relation to its members, while it remains particular in relation to the State: it may then be said that there are no longer as many votes as there are men, but only as many as there are associations. The differences become less numerous and give a less general result. Lastly, when one of these associations is so great as to prevail over all the rest, the result is no longer a sum of small differences, but a single difference; in this case there is no longer a general will, and the opinion which prevails is purely particular.
Every extension of the social tie means its relaxation; and, generally speaking, a small State is stronger in proportion than a great one.
Tuesday, 5 December 2000
The first societies governed themselves aristocratically. The heads of families took counsel together on public affairs. The young bowed without question to the authority of experience. Hence such names as priests, elders, senate, and gerontes. The savages of North America govern themselves in this way even now, and their government is admirable.
But, in proportion as artificial inequality produced by institutions became predominant over natural inequality, riches or power [...] were put before age, and aristocracy became elective. Finally, the transmission of the father's power along with his goods to his children, by creating patrician families, made government hereditary, and there came to be senators of twenty.
There are then three sorts of aristocracy — natural, elective and hereditary. The first is only for simple peoples; the third is the worst of all governments; the second is the best, and is aristocracy properly so called.
He who makes the law knows better than any one else how it should be executed and interpreted. It seems then impossible to have a better constitution than that in which the executive and legislative powers are united; but this very fact renders the government in certain respects inadequate, because things which should be distinguished are confounded, and the prince and the Sovereign, being the same person, form, so to speak, no more than a government without government.
It is not good for him who makes the laws to execute them, or for the body of the people to turn its attention away from a general standpoint and devote it to particular objects. Nothing is more dangerous than the influence of private interests in public affairs, and the abuse of the laws by the government is a less evil than the corruption of the legislator, which is the inevitable sequel to a particular standpoint. In such a case, the State being altered in substance, all reformation becomes impossible, A people that would never misuse governmental powers would never misuse independence; a people that would always govern well would not need to be governed.
If we take the term in the strict sense, there never has been a real democracy, and there never will be. It is against the natural order for the many to govern and the few to be governed. It is unimaginable that the people should remain continually assembled to devote their time to public affairs, and it is clear that they cannot set up commissions for that purpose without the form of administration being changed.
[...] none of these three terms can be altered without the equality being instantly destroyed. If the Sovereign desires to govern, or the magistrate to give laws, or if the subjects refuse to obey, disorder takes the place of regularity, force and will no longer act together, and the State is dissolved and falls into despotism or anarchy. Lastly, as there is only one mean proportional between each relation, there is also only one good government possible for a State. But, as countless events may change the relations of a people, not only may different governments be good for different peoples, but also for the same people at different times.
Every free action is produced by the concurrence of two causes; one moral, i.e., the will which determines the act; the other physical, i.e., the power which executes it. When I walk towards an object, it is necessary first that I should will to go there, and, in the second place, that my feet should carry me. If a paralytic wills to run and an active man wills not to, they will both stay where they are. The body politic has the same motive powers; here too force and will are distinguished, will under the name of legislative power and force under that of executive power. Without their concurrence, nothing is, or should be, done.
We have seen that the legislative power belongs to the people, and can belong to it alone. It may, on the other hand, readily be seen, from the principles laid down above, that the executive power cannot belong to the generality as legislature or Sovereign, because it consists wholly of particular acts which fall outside the competency of the law, and consequently of the Sovereign, whose acts must always be laws.
The public force therefore needs an agent of its own to bind it together and set it to work under the direction of the general will, to serve as a means of communication between the State and the Sovereign, and to do for the collective person more or less what the union of soul and body does for man. Here we have what is, in the State, the basis of government, often wrongly confused with the Sovereign, whose minister it is.
What then is government? An intermediate body set up between the subjects and the Sovereign, to secure their mutual correspondence, charged with the execution of the laws and the maintenance of liberty, both civil and political.
[...] by equality, we should understand, not that the degrees of power and riches are to be absolutely identical for everybody; but that power shall never be great enough for violence, and shall always be exercised by virtue of rank and law; and that, in respect of riches, no citizen shall ever be wealthy enough to buy another, and none poor enough to be forced to sell himself: [...] which implies, on the part of the great, moderation in goods and position, and, on the side of the common sort, moderation in avarice and covetousness.
Such equality, we are told, is an unpractical ideal that cannot actually exist. But if its abuse is inevitable, does it follow that we should not at least make regulations concerning it? It is precisely because the force of circumstances tends continually to destroy equality that the force of legislation should always tend to its maintenance.
In every body politic there is a maximum strength which it cannot exceed and which it only loses by increasing in size. Every extension of the social tie means its relaxation; and, generally speaking, a small State is stronger in proportion than a great one.
Russia will never be really civilised, because it was civilised too soon. Peter had a genius for imitation; but he lacked true genius, which is creative and makes all from nothing. He did some good things, but most of what he did was out of place. He saw that his people was barbarous, but did not see that it was not ripe for civilisation: he wanted to civilise it when it needed only hardening. His first wish was to make Germans or Englishmen, when he ought to have been making Russians; and he prevented his subjects from ever becoming what they might have been by persuading them that they were what they are not.
The Judaic law, which still subsists, and that of the child of Ishmael, which, for ten centuries, has ruled half the world, still proclaim the great men who laid them down; and, while the pride of philosophy or the blind spirit of faction sees in them no more than lucky impostures, the true political theorist admires, in the institutions they set up, the great and powerful genius which presides over things made to endure.
We should not, with Warburton, conclude from this that politics and religion have among us a common object, but that, in the first periods of nations, the one is used as an instrument for the other.
Wise men, if they try to speak their language to the common herd instead of its own, cannot possibly make themselves understood. There are a thousand kinds of ideas which it is impossible to translate into popular language. Conceptions that are too general and objects that are too remote are equally out of its range: each individual, having no taste for any other plan of government than that which suits his particular interest, finds it difficult to realise the advantages he might hope to draw from the continual privations good laws impose. For a young people to be able to relish sound principles of political theory and follow the fundamental rules of statecraft, the effect would have to become the cause; the social spirit, which should be created by these institutions, would have to preside over their very foundation; and men would have to be before law what they should become by means of law. The legislator therefore, being unable to appeal to either force or reason, must have recourse to an authority of a different order, capable of constraining without violence and persuading without convincing.
He who dares to undertake the making of a people's institutions ought to feel himself capable, so to speak, of changing human nature, of transforming each individual, who is by himself a complete and solitary whole, into part of a greater whole from which he in a manner receives his life and being; of altering man's constitution for the purpose of strengthening it; and of substituting a partial and moral existence for the physical and independent existence nature has conferred on us all. He must, in a word, take away from man his own resources and give him instead new ones alien to him, and incapable of being made use of without the help of other men. The more completely these natural resources are annihilated, the greater and the more lasting are those which he acquires, and the more stable and perfect the new institutions; so that if each citizen is nothing and can do nothing without the rest, and the resources acquired by the whole are equal or superior to the aggregate of the resources of all the individuals, it may be said that legislation is at the highest possible point of perfection.
[...] Thus in the task of legislation we find together two things which appear to be incompatible: an enterprise too difficult for human powers, and, for its execution, an authority that is no authority.
In order to discover the rules of society best suited to nations, a superior intelligence beholding all the passions of men without experiencing any of them would be needed. This intelligence would have to be wholly unrelated to our nature, while knowing it through and through; its happiness would have to be independent of us, and yet ready to occupy itself with ours; and lastly, it would have, in the march of time, to look forward to a distant glory, and, working in one century, to be able to enjoy in the next [...] It would take gods to give men laws.
[...] there can be no general will directed to a particular object. Such an object must be either within or outside the State. If outside, a will which is alien to it cannot be, in relation to it, general; if within, it is part of the State, and in that case there arises a relation between whole and part which makes them two separate beings, of which the part is one, and the whole minus the part the other. But the whole minus a part cannot be the whole; and while this relation persists, there can be no whole, but only two unequal parts; and it follows that the will of one is no longer in any respect general in relation to the other.
What is well and in conformity with order is so by the nature of things and independently of human conventions. All justice comes from God, who is its sole source; but if we knew how to receive so high an inspiration, we should need neither government nor laws. Doubtless, there is a universal justice emanating from reason alone; but this justice, to be admitted among us, must be mutual. Humanly speaking, in default of natural sanctions, the laws of justice are ineffective among men: they merely make for the good of the wicked and the undoing of the just, when the just man observes them towards everybody and nobody observes them towards him. Conventions and laws are therefore needed to join rights to duties and refer justice to its object. In the state of nature, where everything is common, I owe nothing to him whom I have promised nothing; I recognise as belonging to others only what is of no use to me. In the state of society all rights are fixed by law, and the case becomes different.
The question is often asked how individuals, having no right to dispose of their own lives, can transfer to the Sovereign a right which they do not possess. The difficulty of answering this question seems to me to lie in its being wrongly stated. Every man has a right to risk his own life in order to preserve it. Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out of the window to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide? Has such a crime ever been laid to the charge of him who perishes in a storm because, when he went on board, he knew of the danger?
The social treaty has for its end the preservation of the contracting parties. He who wills the end wills the means also, and the means must involve some risks, and even some losses. He who wishes to preserve his life at others' expense should also, when it is necessary, be ready to give it up for their sake. Furthermore, the citizen is no longer the judge of the dangers to which the law-desires him to expose himself; and when the prince says to him: "It is expedient for the State that you should die," he ought to die, because it is only on that condition that he has been living in security up to the present, and because his life is no longer a mere bounty of nature, but a gift made conditionally by the State.
The death-penalty inflicted upon criminals may be looked on in much the same light: it is in order that we may not fall victims to an assassin that we consent to die if we ourselves turn assassins. In this treaty, so far from disposing of our own lives, we think only of securing them, and it is not to be assumed that any of the parties then expects to get hanged.
From whatever side we approach our principle, we reach the same conclusion, that the social compact sets up among the citizens an equality of such a kind, that they all bind themselves to observe the same conditions and should therefore all enjoy the same rights. Thus, from the very nature of the compact, every act of Sovereignty, i.e., every authentic act of the general will, binds or favours all the citizens equally; so that the Sovereign recognises only the body of the nation, and draws no distinctions between those of whom it is made up. What, then, strictly speaking, is an act of Sovereignty? It is not a convention between a superior and an inferior, but a convention between the body and each of its members. It is legitimate, because based on the social contract, and equitable, because common to all; useful, because it can have no other object than the general good, and stable, because guaranteed by the public force and the supreme power. So long as the subjects have to submit only to conventions of this sort, they obey no-one but their own will; and to ask how far the respective rights of the Sovereign and the citizens extend, is to ask up to what point the latter can enter into undertakings with themselves, each with all, and all with each.
[...] what makes the will general is less the number of voters than the common interest uniting them; for, under this system, each necessarily submits to the conditions he imposes on others: and this admirable agreement between interest and justice gives to the common deliberations an equitable character which at once vanishes when any particular question is discussed, in the absence of a common interest to unite and identify the ruling of the judge with that of the party [...]
But our political theorists, unable to divide Sovereignty in principle, divide it according to its object: into force and will; into legislative power and executive power; into rights of taxation, justice and war; into internal administration and power of foreign treaty. Sometimes they confuse all these sections, and sometimes they distinguish them; they turn the Sovereign into a fantastic being composed of several connected pieces: it is as if they were making man of several bodies, one with eyes, one with arms, another with feet, and each with nothing besides. We are told that the jugglers of Japan dismember a child before the eyes of the spectators; then they throw all the members into the air one after another, and the child falls down alive and whole. The conjuring tricks of our political theorists are very like that; they first dismember the Body politic by an illusion worthy of a fair, and then join it together again we know not how.
This error is due to a lack of exact notions concerning the Sovereign authority, and to taking for parts of it what are only emanations from it.
TINTIN: YOU WILL NOT SPEAK WITHOUT THE CONCH!
MILOU IN MONKEY MASK: You haven’t got it either! ____ has!
TINTIN: Well I’m playing banker and I can’t exactly fine myself now, can I.
MILOU IN MONKEY MASK: Well give me the conch then, please.
TINTIN: [to ____] We’ll make a hell of a lot more off him if you don’t.
Monday, 4 December 2000
I want in this brief paper to offer an objection to [the] type of historical account [...] in which poets are avant-garde because they are intelligent enough to expose bad ideologies. The objection is to do with poets. It is the type of objection that may benefit from being stated up front as simply as possible. So here it is. Literary historiography does often illuminate real value in the work of poets by showing how they intelligently exposed bad ideology; but literary historiography of this type understands the intelligent exposure of ideology far better than it understands poets, because in stressing more or less exclusively the intelligence of poets it routinely ignores the fact that poets are indigenously stupid.
[...] Poets are untrustworthy in that they want more than can be intelligently wanted; but they are poets because they need what they thus extravagantly want. I would add that good poets usually know this about themselves.
[...] This predicament, knowing that I need what I cannot intelligently want, is the most basic predicament of what I'm calling indigenous poetic stupidity.
Ashton’s readings of Stein and (Riding) Jackson are powerful and persuasive as literary criticism; but she intends these readings to have consequences with respect to contemporary poetry and poetics: they ground an an argument that challenges the enabling myths of current practitioners. A strongly implied claim of her book, then, is that communities write bad literary history. And Ashton’s literary-historical quarrel with a particular community is based on an attack on the theoretical commitments of that community. To what extent will some version of innovative poetry’s formal commitments be found necessary to any strongly community-oriented poetics?
Sunday, 3 December 2000
Again, the Sovereign, being formed wholly of the individuals who compose it, neither has nor can have any interest contrary to theirs; and consequently the sovereign power need give no guarantee to its subjects, because it is impossible for the body to wish to hurt all its members. We shall also see later on that it cannot hurt any in particular. The Sovereign, merely by virtue of what it is, is always what it should be.
We must note also that public decisions, while competent to bind all the subjects to the Sovereign, because of the two different capacities in which each of them may be regarded, but, for the opposite reason, cannot bind the Sovereign to itself; and that it is consequently against the nature of the body politic for the Sovereign to impose on itself a law which it cannot infringe. Being able to regard itself in only one capacity, it is in the position of an individual who makes a contract with himself; and this makes it clear that there neither is nor can be any kind of fundamental law binding on the body of the people — not even the social contract itself. This does not mean that the body politic cannot enter into undertakings with others, provided the contract is not infringed by them; for in relation to what is external to it, it becomes a simple being, an individual.
But the body politic or the Sovereign, drawing its being wholly from the sanctity of the contract, can never bind itself, even to an outsider, to do anything derogatory to the original act, for instance, to alienate any part of itself, or to submit to another Sovereign. Violation of the act by which it exists would be self-annihilation; and that which is itself nothing can create nothing.
[...] the maxim used in civil law, that no one is bound by undertakings made to himself, does not apply in this case; for there is a great difference between incurring an obligation to yourself and incurring one to a whole of which you form a part.
Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will; and we as a body receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole [...]
"Find a form of association which will defend and protect, with the whole of its joint strength, the person and property of each associate, and under which each of them, uniting himself to all, will obey himself alone, and remain as free as before." This is the fundamental problem to which the social contract gives the answer.
[...] how could it be right for the votes of a hundred who wanted a master to be binding on ten who did not? The law of the majority vote itself establishes a covenant, and assumes that on one occasion at least there has been unanimity [...]
If a series of men, in succession, are made to submit to one other man, all I can see in them is a master with his slaves, however many of them there may be; I cannot see a people and its leader. It could be said to be an aggregation, but it is not an association; there is no public good, no body politic. The one man, even if he were to have subjugated half the world, is still only an individual; his self-interest, separate from that of the rest, is still only a private interest [...]
Even in war proper, a just ruler will indeed take possession, when he is in enemy territory, of anything belonging to the public, but will respect the person and property of individuals; he is respecting the rights on which his own are founded.
Grotius and the others take war to be another origin for the so-called right of slavery. The conquerer having, they hold, the right to kill the conquered, the latter can redeem his life at the price of his liberty; and this convention is the more legitimate because it is to the advantage of both parties.
But it is clear that this supposed right to kill the conquered does not derive in any way from the state of war. For the simple reason that men who are living in their original condition of independence are not in a sufficiently continuous relationship with each other for a state either of peace or war to exist, they are not naturally enemies [...] War is constituted by a relation between things, and not between persons; and, as the state of war cannot arise out of simple personal relations, but only out of real relations, private war, or war of man with man, can exist neither in the state of nature, where there is no constant property, nor in the social state, where everything is under the authority of the laws.
[...] The conqueror has not spared the slave's life when he has taken the equivalent of life [...]
To transfer is to give or to sell. Now a man who becomes the slave of another does not give himself: he sells himself, in exchange, at the very least, for his subsistence [...] A king, far from providing subsistence to his subjects, takes it all from them, and as Rabelais says, a king doesn't live cheaply. So will his subjects give him their persons on condition that he will take their property alse? I cannot see what they still have to keep.
I have said nothing of King Adam or of the Emperor Noah, the father of three great monarchs who shared the universe among themselves, like the children of Saturn, with whom they have been identified [...] I hope that my restraint in this respect will be appreciated; for, being descended directly from one or other of these princes, and maybe from the senior branch of the family, who knows but that, if my entitlement were verified, I might not find that I am the legitimate king of the human race?
Aristotle too had said, earlier than any of them [Caligula, Hobbes, Grotius, Tim Teeman], that men are not naturally equal, but that some are born for slavery and some for mastery.
Aristotle was right, but he took the effect for the cause. Any man who is born in slavery is born for slavery; there is nothing surer. Slaves in their chains lose everything, even the desire to be rid of them; they love their servitude, like the companions of Odysseus, who loved their brutishness [...] If there are slaves by nature, it is because slaves have been made against nature. The first slaves were made by force, and they remained so through cowardice.
The most ancient of all societies, and the only one that is natural, is the family. Even in this case, the bond between children and father persists only so long as they have need of him for their conservation. As soon as this need ceases, the natural bond is dissolved. The children are released from the obedience they owe to their father, the father is released from the duty of care to the children, and all become equally independent. If they continue to remain living together, it is not by nature but voluntarily, and the family itself is manitained only through convention.
This shared freedom is a result of man's nature. His first law is his own conservation, his first cares are owed to himself; as soon as he reaches the age of reason, he alone is the judge of how best to look after himself, and thus he becomes his own master.
If I were to consider force alone, and the effects that it produces, I should say: for so long as a nation is constrained to obey, and does so, it does well; as soon as it is able to throw off its servitude, and does so, it does better; for since it regains freedom by the same right than was exercised when its freedom was seized, either the nation was justified in taking freedom back, or else those who took it away were unjustified in doing so. Whereas the social order is a sacred right, and provides a foundation for all outher rights. Yet it is a right that does not come from nature; theerefore it is based on agreed conventions.
Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains. There are some who may believe themselves masters of others, and are no less enslaved than they. How has this change come about? I do not know. How can it be made legitimate? That is a question which I believe I can resolve.
Folks often ask me, hey, Rousseau, do you write on politics because you're a ruler or a legislator? I answer that I'm not; and that's why I write on politics.
[...] Using analysis techniques first developed in the 1930s by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, Conway, Grabe and Grieves found that O'Reilly employed six of the seven propaganda devices nearly 13 times each minute in his editorials. His editorials also are presented on his Web site and in his newspaper columns.
The seven propaganda devices include:
- Name calling -- giving something a bad label to make the audience reject it without examining the evidence;
- Glittering generalities -- the oppositie of name calling;
- Card stacking -- the selective use of facts and half-truths;
- Bandwagon -- appeals to the desire, common to most of us, to follow the crowd;
- Plain folks -- an attempt to convince an audience that they, and their ideas, are "of the people";
- Transfer -- carries over the authority, sanction and prestige of something we respect or dispute to something the speaker would want us to accept; and
- Testimonials -- involving a respected (or disrespected) person endorsing or rejecting an idea or person.
Unlike, however, those writers who responded to deconstruction and other developments in the literary theory of the seventies and eighties by worrying about how - in the face of what seemed to them a destructive skepticism - we might still achieve knowledge about the meaning of texts and, unlike also those writers who responded to the multiculturalism of the nineties by worrying about how - in the face of what seemed to them a destructive particularism - we might achieve political unity, I have not been interested in the supposedly catastrophic epistemological and political consequences of deconstruction and multiculturalism. More specifically, I have not been interested in the possibilities of agreement, interpretive or political, much less in strategies for achieving it. My interest has been rather in the conditions of disagreement, in what we have to think to think of ourselves as disagreeing. With respect to literary theory, I have argued that to identify the text with the shape of the signifier is to make disagreement about its meaning impossible; that is - turning the point around - if we disagree about the meaning of a text we are already committed to identifying that text by an appeal to the intentions of its author. And, with respect to political theory, I have argued similarly that the primacy of identity makes disagreement impossible and the possibility of disagreement makes identity irrelevant. So, although the theoretical commitment to the materiality of the signifier may look very different from the theoretical commitment to the primacy of the subject, they are, in fact, the same commitment - anti-intentionalism and identitarianism are the same project.
Posthistoricist thinkers often criticize the appeal to universality as an attempt to compel agreement, and they remind us that standards of universality are themselves only local. But, of course, the fact that people have locally different views about what is universally true in no way counts as a criticism of the universality of the true. Just the opposite; if we cannot appeal to universal truths as grounds for adjudicating our disagreements, that is only because the idea of truth's universality is nothing but a consequence of our disagreement. The universal does not compel our agreement; it is implied by our disagreement, and we invoke the universal not to resolve our disagreement but to explain the fact that we disagree.
It is in this sense that the cold war may be (and often was) described as universalizing, as involving every part of the world and potentially every part of the universe. The point is not merely the geopolitical one that the two countries involved were so powerful that their spheres of influence more or less blanketed the world. The point is rather the logical one that the question as to which of two social systems is better is intrinsically universal: the belief that private ownership of property is unjust has no particular geographical application; to prefer communism (or capitalism) is to prefer it everywhere for everyone. A notion like sphere of influence, by contrast, can only be local (even if the locale is very large) and hence strategic [...]
All you can say is there are areological formations that from one angle (or from a certain distance or at a certain time of day or in certain kinds of light) have the shape of letters and that from another angle don't. The question of whether those formations really are letters regardless of your perspective makes no sense because, as long as the relevant criterion is formal (is shape), the question of whether the formations really are letters is a question that is crucially about your perspective. Hence the commitment to the primacy of the materiality of the signifier - to shape - is also a commitment to the primacy of experience - to the subject-position. Because what something looks like must be what it looks like to someone, the appeal to the shape of the signifier is at the same time an appeal to the position and hence, I will argue, to the identity of its interpreter.
From the standpoint of the recent history of literary theory, the simultaneity of these appeals helps explain how the commitment to the materiality of the signifier that was so central to theory in the seventies and early eighties could so easily become (what it, in effect, already was) the commitment to those categories of personhood (race, gender, above all, culture) that were so central to theory in the late eighties and the nineties.
Bova's Jamie thinks that the "shapes" of his rocks mean that there used to be Indians on Mars; no one on Robinson's Mars thinks that. But the important difference between these texts has nothing to do with the question of whether there ever was intelligent life on Mars, nothing to do with their differing narratives of how the rocks in which they're interested came to have their shapes. It has to do instead with their different accounts of the status of shape as such. The question raised by these two texts, in other words, is the question of the relation between what something is shaped like and what something is. They differ in their answers to that question. On Bova's Mars, the shapes of the rocks are regarded as clues; the fact that they look like cliff dwellings is regarded as evidence that they might be cliff dwellings. On Robinson's Mars, the shapes aren't evidence of what the rocks are; rather, it is the shapes of the rocks that make them what they are. This is what it means for Robinson to imagine that there can be language on Mars without there being any persons (Martian, Navajo, whatever) to have spoken that language.
Instead of draining rivers, society directs a human stream into a bed of trenches; instead of dropping seeds from airplanes, it drops incendiary bombs over cities; and through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.
Fiat ars—pereat mundus [...] says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of l’art pour l’art. Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.
Friday, 1 December 2000
(Quoted in Zeylstra 1977, p. 28).
Thursday, 30 November 2000
The point, in other words, is that the moment you’re in the business of celebrating a poem for the situation in which it was produced at the same time that you’re celebrating its form as such, you’ve basically got a machine built for nothing but the business of essentializing. With the idea of the woman poet at one end and the idea of "innovative" form at the other, the logic of women’s "innovative" poetry is like a teeter-totter whose requisite fulcrum is that essentialism. And it doesn’t really matter which way the teeter-totter tips; the interest in women remains grounded in a commitment to form, and the interest in form remains grounded in a commitment to women.
The connection of actual power with the legally highest power is the fundamental problem of the concept of sovereignty. All the difficulties reside here.
The most detailed treatment of the concept of sovereignty available in the past few years attempts a simple solution. This has been done by advancing a disjunction: sociology/jurisprudence, and with a simplistic either/or obtaining something purely sociological and something purely juristic.
Using this procedure [...] the state must be purely juristic, something normatively valid. It is not just any reality or any imagined entity alongside and outside the legal order. The state is nothing else than the legal order itself, which is conceived as a unity, to be sure [...] The state is thus neither the creator nor the source of the legal order [...] all perceptions to the contrary are personifications and hypostasizations, duplications of the uniform and identical legal order in different subjects. The state, meaning the legal order, is a system of ascriptions to a last point of ascription and to a last basic norm. The hierarchical order that is legally valid in the state rests on the premise that authorizations and competences emanate from the uniform central point to the lowest point [...] The state is the terminal point of ascription, the point at which the ascriptions, which constitute the essence of juristic consideration, "can stop." This "point" is simultaneously an "order that cannot be further derived." [...] The basis for the validity of a norm can only be a norm;
The dualism of the methods of sociology and jurisprudence ends in a monistic metaphysics. But the unity of the legal order, meaning the state, remains "purged" of everything sociological in the framework of the juristic. Is this juristic unity of the same kind as the worldwide unity of the whole system? How can it be possible to trace a host of positive attributes to a unity with the same point of ascription when what is meant is not the unity of a system of natural law or of a general theory of the law but the unity of a positive-valid order?
On what does the intellectual necessity and objectivity of the various ascriptions with the various points of ascription rest if it does not rest on a positive determination, on a command? As if speaking time and again of uninterrupted unity and order would make them the most obvious things in the world; as if a fixed harmony existed between the result of free juristic knowledge and the complex that only in political reality constitutes a unity, what is discussed is a gradation of higher and lower orders supposedly found in everything that is attached to jurisprudence in the form of positive regulations.
One of the most thorough reviews of the experimental literature by leading researchers in the field concluded, "if a person has relatively aggressive sexual inclinations resulting from various personal and/or cultural factors, some pornography exposure may activate and reinforce associated coercive tendencies and behaviors" (Malamuth, Addison, & Koss, 2000, p. 81). The authors also pointed out that "high pornography use is not necessarily indicative of high risk for sexual aggression" (p. 79). Another large-scale literature review also concluded that men predisposed toward violence are most likely to show effects from viewing pornography and that men not predisposed are unlikely to show effects (Seto, Maric, & Barbarre, 2001, p. 46).
While this experimental work sometimes offers interesting hints at how pornography works in regard to men's sexual behavior, it suffers from several serious problems that limit its value. First, the measures of men's attitudes toward women, such as answers to questions about the appropriate punishment for rapists, do not necessarily tell us anything about men's willingness to rape. Men often view their sexually aggressive or violent behavior not as aggression or violence but as "just sex." In other words, men who rape often condemn rape, which they see as something other men do (Koss, 1988) [...]
"The emancipation of labor demands the promotion of the instruments of labor to the common property of society and the co-operative regulation of the total labor, with a fair distribution of the proceeds of labor."
What are the "proceeds of labor"? The product of labor, or its value? And in the latter case, is it the total value of the product, or only that part of the value which labor has newly added to the value of the means of production consumed?
"Proceeds of labor" is a loose notion which Lassalle has put in the place of definite economic conceptions.
What is "a fair distribution"?
Do not the bourgeois assert that the present-day distribution is "fair"? And is it not, in fact, the only "fair" distribution on the basis of the present-day mode of production? Are economic relations regulated by legal conceptions, or do not, on the contrary, legal relations arise out of economic ones? Have not also the socialist sectarians the most varied notions about "fair" distribution?
Tuesday, 28 November 2000
Sect. 145. There is another power in every common-wealth, which one may call natural, because it is that which answers to the power every man naturally had before he entered into society: for though in a common-w ealth the members of it are distinct persons still in reference to one another, and as such as governed by the laws of the society; yet in reference to the rest of mankind, they make one body, which is, as every member of it before was, still in the state of nature with the rest of mankind. Hence it is, that the controversies that happen between any man of the society with those that are out of it, are managed by the public; and an injury done to a member of their body, engages the whole in the reparatio n of it. So that under this consideration, the whole community is one body in the state of nature, in respect of all other states or persons out of its community.
Sect. 146. This therefore contains the power of war and peace, leagues and alliances, and all the transactions, with all persons and communities without the common-wealth, and may be called federative, if any one pleases. So the thing be understood, I am indifferent as to the name.
Sect. 143. THE legislative power is that, which has a right to direct how the force of the common-wealth shall be employed for preserving the community and the members of it. But because those laws which are con stantly to be executed, and whose force is always to continue, may be made in a little time; therefore there is no need, that the legislative should be always in being, not having always business to do. And because it may be too great a temptati on to human frailty, apt to grasp at power, for the same persons, who have the power of making laws, to have also in their hands the power to execute them, whereby they may exempt themselves from obedience to the laws they make, and suit the law, both in its making, and execution, to their own private advantage, and thereby come to have a distinct interest from the rest of the community, contrary to the end of society and government: therefore in well ordered commonwealths, where the good of the whole is so considered, as it ought, the legislative power is put into the hands of divers persons, who duly assembled, have by themselves, or jointly with others, a power to make laws, which when they have done, being separated again, they are themselves subject to the laws they have made; which is a new and near tie upon them, to take care, that they make them for the public good.
Sect. 144. But because the laws, that are at once, and in a short time made, have a constant and lasting force, and need a perpetual execution, or an attendance thereunto; therefore it is necessary there should be a power always in being, which should see to the execution of the laws tha t are made, and remain in force. And thus the legislative and executive power come often to be separated.
These are the bounds which the trust, that is put in them by the society, and the law of God and nature, have set to the legislative power of every common-wealth, in all forms of government.
First, They are to govern by promulgated established laws, not to be varied in particular cases, but to have one rule for rich and poor, for the favourite at court, and the country man at plough.
Secondly, These laws also ought to be designed for no other end ultimately, but the good of the people.
Thirdly, They must not raise taxes on the property of the people, without the consent of the people, given by themselves, or their deputies. And this properly concerns only such governments where the legislative is alw ays in being, or at least where the people have not reserved any part of the legislative to deputies, to be from time to time chosen by themselves.
Fourthly, The legislative neither must nor can transfer the power of making laws to any body else, or place it any where, but where the people have.
Monday, 27 November 2000
Sunday, 26 November 2000
I FEEL LIKE IKE, warning the post-McCARTHY ERA of the military/industrial complex. Is there an academic/literary complex equivalent, or at least similar, to that earlier one? Why are we not more uneasy with this cozy arrangement? Because it’s bringing in money, jobs, new careers, and a refurbishable pre-sold cannon. If there were something like an academic/literary complex—as intertwined, devious, and enduring as its EISENHOWITZER paradigm—does it not threaten to extend or intrude even here, especially here, where we are now, at the alternative N.S.C. of U POETRY, in its central strategy and planning room? Where the move to become more accessible and to unveil new forms, is roughly the equivalent of PENTAGON STRATEGY and smart, heat-seeking missiles [GENERAL POET indeed]. The power figures, their lackeys and aspirants standing around in casual dress at the midnight-swim cash bar of the new BOHEMIAN GROVE, bartering the unrefurbished prices for the arms of the latest writing. OR variously: Are we not treading precariously close to a kind of avant-garde VANITY F’AIR? Ist A.G. & E. writing not coming comically—or is it cynically—close to VANITY LIT? Somewhere between cottage industry, force feeding, and government WHITE paper.
Saturday, 25 November 2000
Sweet shift go slow, go
amid shingle and roc
and be so the camera
lies in felt ice, in harm,
a brim too far, our gorge
simply rises, comes to
to this general striking.
Or to some skurried bell,
sops a drift, democrats
in coup de main, row on
row and all for no one's
wedding, o dead rose
what murrain soldering
choler to fruits of gloom,
title tracks, this livid soil.
So go easy on the eye
above in fetid stars of
topic balm, high spirits
and cold accord of ruth,
sweet tigers, splash out,
your days melt in surds,
a fair and each to each
to the tune of millions
Afterwards she realises she is 99.8% identical to everyone else. He is appalled to learn that she has lied about her condition. She explains a coherent expression of a world view that is silver and backless, while tearfully promising to change her selfish ways.
By Drew Milne.
[...] the art of the manifesto, the art of a kind of poetic and declarative statement which risks a community of possible misinterpretations and abuses. This art of the propositional or polemical statement need not be restricted to prose; it is perhaps evident in Pound’s Hugh Selwyn Mauberley and The Cantos, and in the work of Wilkinson and Prynne. There is a pleasing, even epic quality about a kind of public declaration which can bring its private extremities into sharp and critical relief against the violent hierarchical demotics of what is called public speaking. Nevertheless, nothing is more worrying in twentieth century British poetry than the prospect of being known and read as a writer of a manifesto; mangled by critics who plough in endless litanies of the obvious; only then to be ignored for having committed the original sin of putting statements of intention before poetic achievement. Nevertheless these necessary reasons for embarrassment with manifestos hide the extent to which the manifesto is a key modernist art form in its own right, and an art form which demonstrates the dynamics of a relation between aesthetics and politics.
[...] sound in its due place is as much true as knowledge (and all that mere claptrap about information and learning). Rhyme is the public truth of language, sound paced out in the shared places, the echoes are no-one’s private property or achievement; thus any grace (truly achieved) of sound is political, part of the world of motion and place in which language is like weather, the air we breathe [...]
To attempt an art of public speaking with regard to contemporary poetry seems like a slap in the face of public taste. Is it possible to speak of, or address such a public? If the Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry (C.C.C.P.) institutes the possibility of a republic of letters, what might develop an appropriate form of collective public speaking with which to articulate its diverse voices? Indeed, is there a plausible art or rhetoric of quotation which might articulate such a public without disenfranchising some voices, and which, as if listening to several voices at once, might remain attentive to the unspeakable? This paper attempts to propose some questions for the time being, through a Benjaminian dream; a dream of a poetics of discussion and criticism as a solution of quotations. Here, an ethics of quotation forbids the imperatives of private property, and risks a community of borrowed voices, hoping to provoke such voices into some write of reply. Rather than parading a host of dummies laid out by the swift punches of scare quotes, each carefully collected word bleeds into the body of its own mixed metaphor. Passing on the baton of irresponible remarks let slip in other contexts, these notes hope that some community of risk might overcome the fear of speaking in public, the fear of the forum, agoraphobia, and the embarrassment of becoming all too manifest, even a manifesto.
Wednesday, 22 November 2000
Aid agencies can be held accountable for specific tasks, rather than the weak incentives that follow from collective responsibility of all aid agencies and recipient governments for those broad goals that depend on many other things besides aid agency effort. Examples of the latter include such unaccountable goals as the very fashionable campaign to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, or the sweeping goals of economic growth, government reform, and democracy for poor countries mentioned above. If a bureaucracy shares responsibilities with other agencies to achieve many different general goals that depend on many other things, then it is not accountable to its intended beneficiaries—the poor.
An acre of land, that bears here twenty bushels of wheat, and another in America, which, with the same husbandry, would do the like, are, without doubt, of the same natural intrinsic value: but yet the benefit mankind receives from the one in a year, is worth 5l. and from the other possibly not worth a penny, if all the profit an Indian received from it were to be valued, and sold here; at least, I may truly say, not one thousandth. It is labour then which puts the greatest part of value upon land, without which it would scarcely be worth any thing: it is to that we owe the greatest part of all its useful products; for all that the straw, bran, bread, of that acre of wheat, is more worth than the product of an acre of as good land, which lies waste, is all the effect of labour: for it is not barely the plough-man's pains, the reaper's and thresher's toil, and the baker's sweat, is to be counted into the bread we eat; the labour of those who broke the oxen, who digged and wrought the iron and stones, who felled and framed the timber employed about the plough, mill, oven, or any other utensils, which are a vast number, requisite to this corn, from its being feed to be sown to its being made bread, must all be charged on the account of labour, and received as an effect of that: nature and the earth furnished only the almost worthless materials, as in themselves. It would be a strange catalogue of things, that industry provided and made use of, about every loaf of bread, before it came to our use, if we could trace them; iron, wood, leather, bark, timber, stone, bricks, coals, lime, cloth, dying drugs, pitch, tar, masts, ropes, and all the materials made use of in the ship, that brought any of the commodities made use of by any of the workmen, to any part of the work; all which it would be almost impossible, at least too long, to reckon up.
§46. The greatest part of things really useful to the life of man, and such as the necessity of subsisting made the first commoners of the world look after, as it doth the Americans now, are generally things of short duration; such as, if they are not consumed by use, will decay and perish of themselves: gold, silver and diamonds, are things that fancy or agreement hath put the value on, more than real use, and the necessary support of life. Now of those good things which nature hath provided in common, every one had a right (as hath been said) to as much as he could use, and property in all that he could effect with his labour; all that his industry could extend to, to alter from the state nature had put it in, was his. He that gathered a hundred bushels of acorns or apples, had thereby a property in them, they were his goods as soon as gathered. He was only to look, that he used them before they spoiled, else he took more than his share, and robbed others. And indeed it was a foolish thing, as well as dishonest, to hoard up more than he could make use of. If he gave away a part to any body else, so that it perished not uselesly in his possession, these he also made use of. And if he also bartered away plums, that would have rotted in a week, for nuts that would last good for his eating a whole year, he did no injury; he wasted not the common stock; destroyed no part of the portion of goods that belonged to others, so long as nothing perished uselesly in his hands. Again, if he would give his nuts for a piece of metal, pleased with its colour; or exchange his sheep for shells, or wool for a sparkling pebble or a diamond, and keep those by him all his life he invaded not the right of others, he might heap up as much of these durable things as he pleased; the exceeding of the bounds of his just property not lying in the largeness of his possession, but the perishing of any thing uselesly in it.
§50. But since gold and silver, being little useful to the life of man in proportion to food, raiment, and carriage, has its value only from the consent of men, whereof labour yet makes, in great part, the measure; it is plain, that men have agreed to a disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth; they having, by a tacit and voluntary consent, found out a way how a man may fairly possess more land than he himself can use the product of, by receiving, in exchange for the overplus, gold and silver, which may be hoarded up without injury to anyone; these metals not spoiling or decaying in the hands of the possessor. This partage of things in an inequality of private possessions, men have made practicable out of the bounds of society, and without compact; only by putting a value on gold and silver, and tacitly agreeing in the use of money; for in governents, the laws regulate the right of property, and the possession of land is determined by positive constitutions.
Who with he'll say climbing, to let blood slit imposed
at a turret elevation to buffer high return. I saw
her wings in speedy strip like a shadow in the sand
or in growth like natural reason, her heart so vast
as justly to make cause with the fiery fountain sealed
on track right across terra nullius overhead. I knew
that, she made me see the light level cracking along
her trebled skyline: I held my view. Blizzard loyal
transgenic pulsation she'll take both up to a dish
off the bone dropping away to a strut canopy, eyes
blue on blue aptitude so sweet. I knew that.
His cash desk implant leaves a scar, at actual
size past reason's deposit tremble on peak
travel location: get it dealt, like rennet
on the vital rack there.
The common world (so Jane sez)
is all maintained by 'voluntary spies'.
These monitor unevenness in equalities
and propinquity in inequality
for unless there is positional definition,
calibration of action and distinction of entitlements
(upon some moral register)
the war could not proceed.
It would become inexplicable.
To be radical is to grasp things by the root. But for man the root is man himself.
[...] Even the thinnest breath of
wind wraps round the intense lassitude, that
an undeniably political centre keeps watch; the
switch of light and shadow is packed with
foreign tongues. I shall not know my own
Monday, 20 November 2000
Liberal internationalist orthodoxy, most prominent in New York financial circles, proposed to reform the old order simply by shifting its locus from the pound to the dollar and by ending discriminatory trade and exchange practice [...] Opposition to economic liberalism, nearly universal outside the United States, differed in substance and intensity depending upon whether it came from the Left, Right, or Center, but was united in its rejection of unimpeded multilateralism [...] The task of postwar institutional reconstruction [...] was to maneuver between these two extremes and to devise a framework which would safeguard and even aid the quest for domestic stability without, at the same time, triggering the mutually destructive external consequences that had plagued the interwar period. This was the essence of the embedded liberalism compromise: unlike the economic nationalism of the thirties, it would be multilateral in character; unlike the liberalism of the gold standard and free trade, its multilateralism would be predicated upon domestic interventionism.
Free exchanges would be assured by the abolition of all forms of exchange controls and restrictions on current transactions. Stable exchanges would be secured by setting and maintaining official par values, expressed in terms of gold.
[...] that a multilateral order gained acceptance reflected the extraordinary power and perseverance of the United States. But that multilateralism and the quest for domestic stability were coupled and even conditioned by one another reflected the shared legitimacy of a set of social objectives to which the industrial world had moved, unevenly but "as a single entity." Therefore, the common tendency to view the postwar regimes as liberal regimes, but with lots of cheating taking place on the domestic side, fails to capture the full complexity of the embedded liberalism compromise [...]
There was a growing tendency during the inter-war period to make international monetary policy conform to domestic social and economic policy and not the other way round. Yet the world was still economically interdependent; and an international currency mechanism for the multilateral exchange of goods and services, instead of primitive bilateral barter, was still a fundamental necessity for the great majority of countries. The problem was to find a system of international currency relations compatible with the requirements of domestic stability. Had the period been more than a truce between two world wars, the solution that would have evolved would no doubt have been in the nature of a compromise.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that apart from Britain, seized by its own ideology and institutional past and willing to pay the domestic social cost, there were few takers [of the gold-exchange standard] among the major countries. [...] In sum, efforts to construct international economic regimes in the interwar period failed not because of the lack of a hegemon. They failed because, even had there been a hegemon, they stood in contradiction to the transformation in the mediating role of the state between market and society, which altered fundamentally the social purpose of domestic and international authority.
In sum, this shift in what we might call the balance between "authority" and "market" fundamentally transformed state-society relations, by redefining the legitimate social purposes in pursuit of which state power was expected to be employed in the domestic economy. The role of the state became to institute and safeguard the self-regulating market. [...] These expectations about the proper scope of political authority in economic relations did not survive World War I. Despite attempts at restoration, by the end of the interwar period there remained little doubt about how thoroughly they had eroded. Polanyi looked back over the period of the "twenty years' crisis" from the vantage point of the Second World War -- at the emergence of mass movements from the Left and the Right throughout Europe, the revolutionary and counterrevolutionary upheavals in central and eastern Europe in the 1917-20 period, the General Strike of 1926 in Great Britain, and, above all, the rapid succession of the abandonment of the gold standard by Britain, the instituting of the Five Year Plans in the Soviet Union, the launching of the New Deal in the United States, unorthodox budgetary policies in Sweden, corporativismo in Fascist Italy, and Wirkschaftslenkung followed by the creation of both domestic and international variants of the "new economic order" by the Nazis in Germany.
Running throughout these otherwise diverse events and developments, he saw the common thread of social reaction against market rationality.
[...] how did such diverse forces come to converge on the single policy response of free trade? In a certain sense, Kindleberger contends, Europe in this period [nineteenth century; esp. 1840-1870?] should be viewed not as a collection of separate economies, but "as a single entity which moved to free trade for ideological or perhaps better doctrinal reasons." [...] The image of the market became an increasingly captivating social metaphor and served to focus diverse responses on the outcome of free trade. And unless one holds that ideology and doctrine exist in a social vacuum, this ascendancy of market rationality in turn must be related to the political and cultural ascendance of the middle classes. In Polanyi's inimitable phrase, "Laissez-faire was planned. . . ." [...]
The prevailing model postulates one source of regime change, the ascendancy or decline of economic hegemons, and two directions of regime change, greater openness or closure. If, however, we allow for the possibility that power and purpose do not necessarily covary, then we have two potential sources of change and no longer any simple one-to-one correspondence
between source and direction of change.
There remains the situation of no hegemon but a congruence of social purpose among the leading economic powers (albeit imperfectly, the post-1971 international economic order illustrates this possibility).
It is the last possibility that interests me most. [...] If and as the concentration of economic power erodes, and the "strength" of international regimes is sapped thereby, we may be sure that the instruments of regimes also will have to change [...] However, as long as purpose is held
constant, there is no reason to suppose that the normative framework of regimes must change as well. [...] rules and procedures (instruments) would change but principles and norms (normative frameworks) would not. Presumably, the new instruments that would emerge would be better adapted to the new power situation in the international economic order. But insofar as they continued to reflect the same sense of purpose, they would represent a case of norm-governed as opposed to norm-transforming change.
Applying this argument to the post-1971 period leads me to suggest that many of the changes that have occurred in the regimes for money and trade have been norm-governed changes rather than, as is often maintained, reflecting the collapse of Bretton Woods and a headlong rush into mercantilism.
[...] international economic regimes provide a permissive environment for the emergence of specific kinds of international transaction flows that actors take to be complementary to the particular fusion of power and purpose that is embodied within those regimes.
Conventional structural arguments, whether Realist or Marxist, see transnationalization as a direct reflection of hegemony: high levels of trade and capital flows obtain under the pax Britannica and the pax Americana. The regimes for trade and money are largely epiphenomena [...] adjuncts that may be invoked to legitimate this outcome, but they have little or no real bearing on it. Conventional liberals, on the other hand, hold that high levels of trade and capital flows will obtain only if there is strict adherence to open international economic regimes, so that these become virtually determinative. Neither formulation is satisfactory.
International regimes have been defined as social institutions around which actor expectations converge in a given area of international re1ations. Accordingly, as is true of any social institution, international regimes limit the discretion of their constituent units to decide and act on issues that fall within the regime's domain. And, as is also true of any social institution, ultimate expression in converging expectations and delimited discretiongives international regimes an intersubjective quality. To this extent, international regimes are akin to language -- we may think of them as part of "the language of state action" [...]
The analytical components of international regimes we take to consist of principles, norms, rules, and procedures. As the content for each of these terms is specified, international regimes diverge from social institutions like language, for we do not normally attribute to language any specific "consummatory" as opposed to "instrumental" values [...] Insofar as international regimes embody principles about fact, causation, and rectitude, as well aspolitical rights and obligations that are regarded as legitimate, they fall closer to the consummatory end of the spectrum, into the realm of political authority. Thus, the formation and transformation of international regimes may be said to represent a concrete manifestation of the internationalization of political authority [...]
Sunday, 19 November 2000
The animal condition of humans itself gives us the rule by which we have to judge animals and their actions. We find it without and prior to the exercise of reason, not only amongst humans who have grown up with animals, but also in children before they reflect, and indeed in adults, whenever they operate not according to concepts and considerations, but rather pure emotion.
Saturday, 18 November 2000
Heidegger hardly pays any attention to the difference between reason [Vernunft] and understanding [Verstand], out of which Hegel still wanted to develop the dialectic of enlightenment. He can no longer glean from self-consciousness any reconciling dimension in addition to its authoritarian aspect. It is Heideggger himself - and not the narrow-minded Enlightenment - that levels reason to the understanding. The same understanding of Being that spurs modernity to the unlimited expansion of its manipulative power over objectified processes of nature and society also forces this emancipated subjectivity into bonds that serve to secure its imperative activity; these self-made normative obligations remain hollow ideals.
Friday, 17 November 2000
What holds for Freud applies to all seminal theories in these disciplines, for instance, those of Durkheim, Mead, Max Weber, Piaget, and Chomsky. Each inserted a genuinely philosophical idea like a detonator into a particular context of research. Symptom formation through repression; the creation of solidarity through the sacred; the identity-forming function of role taking; modernization as rationalization of society; decentration as an outgrowth of reflective abstraction from action; language acquisition as an activity of hypothesis testing -- these key phrases stand for so many paradigms in which a philosophical idea is present in embryo while at the same time empirical, yet universal, questions are being posed. It is no coincidence that theoretical approaches of this kind are the favorite target of empiriticist counterattacks. Such cylclical movements in the history of science, incidentally, do not point to a convergence of these disciplines in one unified science. It makes better sense to view them as stages on the road to the philosophization of the sciences of man (Philosophischwerden der Humanwissenschaften) than as stages in the triumphal march toward objectivist approaches, such a neurophysiology, that quaint favorite child of the analytic philosophers.
What I have said lies mainly in the realm of speculative conjecture. But unless I am completely mistaken, it makes sense to suggest that philosophy, instead of just dropping the usher role and being left with nothing, ought to exchange it for the part of stand-in (Platzhalter). Whose seat would philosophy be keeping, what would it be standing in for? Empirical theories with strong universalistic claims. As I have indicated, fertile minds have surfaced and will continue to surface in nonphilosophical disciplines, who will give such theories a try. The chance for their emergence is greatest in the reconstructive sciences. Starting primarily from the intuitive knowledge of competent subjects -- competent in terms of judgment, action, and language -- and secondarily from systemic knowledge handed down by culture, the reconstructive sceinces explain the presumably universal bases of rational experience and judgment, as well as of action and linguistic communication. Marked down in price, the venerable transcendental and dialectical modes of justification may still come in handy. All they can fairly be expected to furnish, however, is reconstructive hypotheses for use in empirical settings. Telling examples of a successful cooperative integration of philosophy and science can be seen in the development of a theory of rationality. This is an area where philosophers work as suppliers of ideas [...]
Wednesday, 15 November 2000
Saturday, 11 November 2000
The scientists are flicking salt at your boyfriend. They do not believe in the efficacy of occult practices, but maybe that’s because they name every spark that flies from the lathe.
Friday, 10 November 2000
According to the kidnapped child's imagination, Davis was liberated from his abductors when 30 law enforcement agents swooped down from helicopters, crashed through the windows of the basement where he was being kept, and carried the desperate third-grader away to safety.
Blocking out the sight and stench of his surroundings [...]
Tuesday, 7 November 2000
The Root of evil Avarice,
That damn'd ill-natur'd baneful Vice,
Was Slave to Prodigality,
That Noble Sin; whilst Luxury.
Employ'd a Million of the Poor,
And odious Pride a Million more
Envy it self, and Vanity
Were Ministers of Industry;
Their darling Folly, Fickleness
In Diet, Furniture, and Dress,
That strange, ridic'lous Vice, was made
The very Wheel, that turn'd the Trade.
Their Laws and Cloaths were equally
Objects of Mutability;
For, what was well done for a Time,
In half a Year became a Crime;
Yet whilst they alter'd thus their Laws,
Still finding and correcting Flaws,
They mended by Inconstancy
Faults, which no Prudence could foresee.
Thus Vice nursed Ingenuity,
Which join'd with Time; and Industry
Had carry'd Life's Conveniencies,
It's real Pleasures, Comforts, Ease,
To such a Height, the very Poor
Lived better than the Rich before;
And nothing could be added more [...]
Justice her self, famed for fair Dealing,
By Blindness had not lost her Feeling;
Her Left Hand, which the Scales should hold,
Had often dropt 'em, bribed with Gold;
And, tho' she seem'd impartial,
Where Punishment was corporal,
Pretended to a reg'lar Course,
In Murther, and all Crimes of Force;
Tho' some, first Pillory'd for Cheating,
Were hang'd in Hemp of their own beating;
Yet, it was thought, the Sword the bore
Check'd but the Desp'rate and the Poor;
That, urg'd by mere Necessity,
Were tied up to the wretched Tree
For Crimes, which not deserv'd that Fate,
But to secure the Rich, and Great.
Thus every Part was full of Vice,
Yet the whole Mass a Paradice;
Flatter'd in Peace, and fear'd in Wars
They were th'Esteem of Foreigners,
And lavish of their Wealth and Lives,
The Ballance of all other Hives.
Such were the Blessings of that State;
Their Crimes conspired to make 'em Great;
And Vertue, who from Politicks
Had learn'd a Thousand cunning Tricks,
Was, by their happy Influence,
Made Friends with Vice: And ever since
The worst of all the Multitude
Did something for the common Good.
This was the State's Craft, that maintain'd
The Whole, of which each Part complain'd:
This, as in Musick Harmony,
Made Jarrings in the Main agree;
Parties directly opposite
Assist each oth'r, as 'twere for Spight;
And Temp'rance with Sobriety
Serve Drunkenness and Gluttonny.