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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.”