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Radical Philosophy Today

Volume 4, 2006
Philosophy Against Empire

Table of Contents

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Displaying: 1-10 of 21 documents

1. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Tony Smith, Harry van der Linden Introduction
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part i: war and empire
2. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Karsten J. Struhl Can There Be a Just War?
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Just war theory distinguishes between jus ad bellum (whether the war itself is just) and jus in bello (whether the conduct of the war is just). I argue, against the traditional view, that modern warfare has made it impossible to separate the two in practice. Specifically, I argue that modern war is a techno-cultural system which requires its participants to violate the primary criterion of jus in bello—noncombatant immunity. From this it follows that even a war of self-defense is not a just war. I consider several challenges to my position: the doctrine of double effect and the claim that noncombatant immunity can be suspended on the basis of military necessity or supreme emergency. I argue that neither of these challenges is acceptable and that to suspend the rule of noncombatant immunity is to suspend the moral point of view. Finally, I consider alternatives which would change the techno-cultural system of modern war.
3. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Ann Ferguson No Just War for the Empire
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Although international law and the Charter of the United Nations define a doctrine of just war, some critics have argued that the U.S. has become an empire that can no longer be bound by such doctrine. On the contrary, I maintain that we must retain just war doctrine as a normative base from which to critique the U.S. and its preemptive wars against terrorism. Neither the Afghanistan nor the Iraq war has been a just war. By its imperialist intentions and barbarous actions, the U.S. government has shown itself no longer to be a legitimate authority with the moral justification to begin or conduct a war. Such subversion of democratic deliberation requires a moral force to mobilize resistance from below. Since no war initiated by the undemocratic elite of the U.S. Empire could possibly be just, we have a conscientious obligation to become revolutionary pacifists against any wars called by such an illegitimate government. In contrast to universal pacifism, a context-justified revolutionary pacifism can be defended as a coherent moral and political position.
4. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Edmund F. Byrne Leave No Oil Reserves Behind, Including Iraq’s: The Geopolitics of American Imperialism
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Just war theory needs to become a real-time critique of government war propaganda in order to facilitate peace advocacy ante bellum. This involves countering asserted justificatory reasons with demonstrable facts that reveal other motives, thereby yielding reflective understanding which can be collectivized via electronic media. As a case in point, I compare here the publicly declared reasons for the U.S./U.K. invasion of Iraq in 2003 with reasons discussed internally months and even years before in government and think-tank documents. These sources show that control of oil rather than regime change or a WMD threat was theunderlying motive. Neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration justified such deception by citing an exoteric/esoteric distinction traceable to Plato via Leo Strauss. As with the Iraq invasion, so in general such propaganda and its rationalizations can be undermined by investigative journalism understood as ranging from fact gathering to rhetorical analysis and critique.
part ii: cross-border flows in the global economy
5. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
David R. Cormier, Harry Targ Globalization, Neoliberalism, and the “Precarious Classes”: The Next Phase
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This paper looks at an emerging major economic trend which appears to be, in part, a consequence of neoliberal globalization. This development is the rise of a huge segment of the world’s population, in both developed and developing countries, comprising a redundant or unneeded group of workers, both rural and urban. These make up “the precarious classes.” The paper initially presents background ideas to set the stage for discussing these findings. It looks at data summarizing the consequences of globalization to date in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. The rise of the “working poor” in the U.S. is first documented and then we summarize Samir Amin’s work on what he calls the emergence of “precarious classes” around the globe. Finally, we tie this apparent trend to related global problems and look at what is needed to further research this potentially ominous development.
6. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Jo-Ann Pilardi From Alien to Guest: A Philosophical Scrutiny of the Bush Administration’s “Guest Worker” Initiative
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This paper examines the Bush Administration’s immigration “reform” initiative of January 2004, which proposes a guest worker category to further regulate the continuing immigration of workers into the United States. The plan is particularly intended to affect the flow of workers from Mexico. I will argue that this doesn’t represent an improvement but rather creates a deeper level of alienation for the laborer and greater control for global capital, and results in another layer of control over human subjects through the regulation of identity. However, there are promising signs that global capital may be weakening, due to both internaland external forces. I don’t propose specific immigration policy changes in this paper.
7. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Lucinda Joy Peach Victims or Agents? Female Cross-Border Migrants and Anti-Trafficking Discourse
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Scholars have recently suggested the desirability of moving the migrant female subject to the center of the analysis of sex trafficking and other forms of women’s cross-border migration. At first glance, this seems to be a progressive move forward in empowering women and protecting their human rights, especially those who have been trafficked for the sex trade or have otherwise migrated for work in the sex industry. However, putting the victim of trafficking into the center of trafficking analysis also creates new problems, especially for the formulation and implementation of law and public policy. In this paper, I will first discuss some of the factors that favor putting the female migrant subject at the center of anti-trafficking, such as recognition and respect for the autonomy of the person that is at the center of trafficking. I will then discuss some of the problems that such a reconfiguration would entail.
part iii: biopolitics and the “global war on terrorism”
8. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Devin Zane Shaw The Absence of Evidence is Not the Evidence of Absence: Biopolitics and the State of Exception
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In this essay, I attempt to show that the “war on terror” intensifies the use of biopolitical techniques. One such example, which I take as a point of departure, is Guantánamo Bay. We must place this camp in its proper genealogy with the many camps of the twentieth century. However, this genealogy is not a genealogy of the extremes of political space during and after the twentieth century; it is a genealogy of the transformation of political space itself. I will attempt to show this in three steps: first, a description and critique of the biopolitical in both Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben, who I take as exemplary in their analyses; second, an analysis of contemporary biopolitical techniques (including the camp), which enables us to avoid the liberal-democratic ideological misunderstanding of the war on terror; and third, a discussion regarding resistance to biopolitical techniques.
9. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Tzuchien Tho Politics and the Void: Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Žižek on the State of Emergency
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Although working through different traditions in European philosophy, the works of Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Žižek have recently focused on issues surrounding the “state of emergency” that characterizes our age of increasing humanitarianism and global “police” actions. By investigating parallels in their separate diagnoses of our current political tendencies, this paper examines their suggestions for a political program of the future. Beginning with the paradoxes revealed in the ontological referent implied in “universal human rights,” this investigation will examine the contemporary failure at developing a viable political ontology and the ensuing theoretical possibilities that these failures open for a politics of the future.
10. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Eduardo Mendieta The Imperial Bestiary of the U.S.: Alien, Enemy Combatant, Terrorist
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The so-called War on Terror has given rise to a virulent discourse that demonizes all those who allegedly seek to do harm and kill Americans. A veritable bestiary of demonic and bestial creatures has been thus ensembled, constituting what one cannot but call an “imperial bestiary.” Here we do not so much consider the contents of this imperial bestiary, as much as seek to analyze its grammar, that is, the way it operates on certain moral assumptions that have very pernicious moral consequences. Reconstructing the work of some recent critical philosophers, a possible way to dismantle all bestiaries, whether imperial or colonial, is elaborated. The work of Mary Midgley, Jacques Derrida and Donna Haraway are brought together to develop what has been here called a politics beyond monsters, beasts, roguish animals, and infesting vermin that must be at best domesticated, and at worst exterminated.