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41. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Carol C. Gould A Reply to My Critics
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In response to critical discussions of her Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights by William McBride, Omar Dahbour, Kory Schaff, and David Schweickart, Gould grants that globalization and U.S. Empire are intertwined, but she argues that this does not refute that global and transnational interconnections and networks are developing that are in need of substantive democracy. Gould further seeks to clarify two main interpretive misunderstandings of her critics. First, even though she rejects “all affected” as a criterion for determining the participants of institutional decision-making, she does leave room for participation of the “affected” when the fulfillment of their basic rights is at stake. Second, she argues that her vision of democratizing economic institutions is not fundamentallydifferent from the traditional idea of workplace democracy. Other topics addressed are the normative grounding of human rights, the error of reducing human rights to positive law, and the incoherency of the notion that democracy can be imposed by the barrel of a gun. Finally, Gould maintains that empathy, if properly understood, should be extended to terrorists, while we should also strongly condemn their rejection of noncombatant immunity. [Abstract prepared by the Editors.]
42. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Abstracts
43. 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.
44. 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.
45. 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.
46. 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.
47. 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.
48. 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.
49. 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.
50. 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.
51. 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.
52. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Richard Schmitt Can the Alienated Make a Socialist Revolution? Reflections About the Prospects for Socialism
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Alienation is the name of the deformations of human personality produced by capitalism and, specifically, by wage labor. The alienated are powerless. That inhibits their self-esteem, and takes from them the direction of their own lives and the choice of their life values. They become passive bystanders to existence, distrustful of their fellows and motivated by the desire for gain. The alienated tend to be timid, morally indifferent, and ready to support great evil. Appearances are all that matters to them. They are resentful, conservative. Alienation itself becomes invisible. It unfits those who work for a wage from being active in the movements for social change from capitalism to socialism. The transition to socialism appears to become well-nigh impossible. The force of this argument ismoderated by the fact that the conditions of wage labor are not uniform and alienation, and therefore are more severe for some workers than for others.
53. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Richard A. Jones Black Authenticity/Inauthenticity and American Empire
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In this paper, I explore political identity for African Americans in an era where the stated aim of the U.S. is global dominance. In ordinary language, I am interested in how blacks can effectively engage in dissent, civil disobedience, protest, insurrection, and revolutionary actions while surviving in an atmosphere where the majority believe either Bush I’s “A friend of my enemy is my enemy,” or Bush II’s “If you harbor terrorists, you’re a terrorist; if you aid and abet terrorists, you’re a terrorist—and you’ll be treated like one.” This paper attempts to interrogate how African Americans—who identify with globally oppressed and distressed peoples—can survive while actively protesting within an armed camp. Or does being black in America mean that one is either a terrorist sympathizer or anUncle Tom? The answers to these questions require a coalition of the unwilling.
54. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Richard T. Peterson Human Rights and the Politics of Neo-colonial Intervention
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What kind of ethical perspective is available for criticizing policies like the U.S. intervention in Iraq? Though human rights seems to offer a framework suited to this kind of global politics, the realities of the neo-colonial world bring the viability of its universality into question. Democratic responsibility may offer a bridging perspective, though it too lacks convincing embodiment. Exploration of the preconditions for assuming such responsibility does help us grasp some political features of the required agency and also helps us sketch a historical and conflict-based notion of human rights that may allow for a notion of an unfolding ethic that permits the kind of criticism that is required for thinking about neo-colonial relations in concrete ethical terms.
55. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Peter Amato Marxist Critique and Philosophical Hermeneutics: Outlines of a Hermeneutical-Historical Materialism
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Philosophically robust conceptions of ethical life and moral critique would advance the struggle against capital. Marx can be read as implying that human life is irreducibly meaningful, linguistic, and cultural, but he often is not. Whether or not Marx recognized them himself, these dimensions of life have not been sufficiently thematized or developed by Marxists. I argue that we can move toward doing so with assistance from Hans-Georg Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics. A hermeneutical approach to historical materialism would help clarify and articulate some aspects of Marxism which in particular have been hard to resolve within a wider view of the ethical, political, scientific, and historical dimensions of social action and change.
56. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
William McBride Carol Gould’s Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights
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McBride offers a succinct summary of Gould’s book and ponders what the significance of theoretical discussions of the nature of human rights and degrees of democracy might be for our time when the U.S. government has descended into “barbarism” and made a sham out of anything resembling democracy. He concludes that Gould’s book is “first rate” as “a learned exercise in dreaming,” granting against his own deep pessimism that one can never know for sure that “dreams” may not turn out to have some practical relevance. [Abstract prepared by the Editors.]
57. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Tony Smith, Harry van der Linden Introduction
58. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Brenda Bethman Housewife or Shopgirl? Alienation in Elfriede Jelinek’s women as lovers
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Rather than choose between competing theories of alienation, whether Marxist, feminist, or psychoanalytic, this chapter argues that each theory has its value for a critical understanding of Jelinek’s literary work. At the level of the “signified or plot,” the author finds that Marxist theories of alienation through labor, and feminist theories of alienation in patriarchy, are both helpful frameworks for exploring the situations represented in the novel. In addition, at the level of “signifier or language,” the author shows how Jelinek’s use of metonymy also works to subvert customary expectations of a romance formula.
59. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Richard Peterson Media Politics and Human Rights
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In response to several appeals for a new politics of media, the author argues that a human right to self-identity would help to clarify and inform the normative stakes involved in efforts to liberate powerful media forces for democratic ends. Such a right to self-identity may be seen already to be a latent motivation behind various efforts to secure “representation” for protected classes; however, if the principles were drawn out in more explicit form, they might help to more powerfully transform the targeted media structures along normative lines already legitimized by a human rights tradition. In addition, a discourse of human rights would also help to discipline competing group interests in ways that would better protect individuals involved in those struggles from coercive agendas that would drive them into conformist group loyalties. The author articulates a background theory of human rights that is grounded in the actual histories and practices of the emerging global movement.
60. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Peg O’Connor Swimming Against the Mainstream Gay and Lesbian Agenda
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In many ways, the struggle for gay and lesbian rights has come of age, and mainstream politics in the USA shows signs of embracing the votes and monetary contributions of organized gay and lesbian constituents. But the author warns that a movement for sexual liberation pays too high a price when it mimics a conservative language of “family values.” Since the framework of “family” language is implicated in structures of heteronormativity and patriarchy, sexual liberation that plays the “family language” game will be drawn into a narrowing politics of nondiscrimination. Furthermore, argues the author, the right to marry cannot be considered a human right, since it is always bound to local statutes and custom. Therefore, gay and lesbian liberation that seeks truly universalizable principles will do better to not ensnare its struggle in “family values.”