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41. 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.
42. 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.
43. 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.
44. 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.
45. 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.
46. 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.]
47. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Tony Smith, Harry van der Linden Introduction
48. 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.
49. 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.
50. 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.”
51. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Melissa Burchard What’s My Line? Gender, Performativity, and Bisexual Identity
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Although gay and lesbian theory may posit homosexuality as an oppositional challenge to heteronormativity, the author argues that homosexuality and heterosexuality share a common structure of desire that is based upon choosing the gender of one’s partner from only one gender in a binary gender framework. For this reason, the author introduces the term ‘monosexual’ to designate any sexual orientation, whether homosexual or heterosexual, which makes a single gender category into an exclusive criterion for selecting partners. As an alternative to these “oppositional” logics, the author argues that bisexuality may be distinguished through its focus on desire regardless of the gender category of one’s partner. This alternative raises questions about logical theories that posit conceptual oppositions as necessary to intelligibility.
52. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Lisa Heldke “Dear Kate Bornstein”: Bisexual Reflections on a Bi-Trans Alliance
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In an imagined letter to the author of My Gender Workbook, the author of this article recounts classroom discussions about gender identity that led to profound questions regarding the relation between sex, gender, and sexuality. The author argues that more conversation between bisexual and transgender perspectives would continue to unsettle conceptual frameworks for sexuality in helpful ways. The author finds special consequences in this conversation for the concept of gender, especially when it is considered as a reference point for self-exploration and classification.
53. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Harry van der Linden The Left and Humanitarian Intervention as Solidarity
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Although the author concedes that much criticism from the left alleging ulterior imperialist motives of missions for “humanitarian intervention” is valid; nevertheless, the author argues that it would be wrong to rule out the concept of humanitarian intervention, even when conducted by imperialist powers for imperialist motives. The concept of “rescue” remains a valid humanitarian concept, and a logical foundation for solidarity with populations who find themselves under assault and defenseless. The author considers various regulative principles that may guide more careful thinking about humanitarian intervention.
54. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Peter Hudis Philosophic Implications of the War over Kosova
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In analysis of reactions to the NATO-led bombing of Kosova, the author finds that radical critics relied on a disembodied logic of anti-imperialism rather than focusing on the experience of the Kosovar population. For this reason, the author argues that the left failed to consider the history of Kosovar nonviolent resistance to Serbian domination or the Serbian repressions that followed. And in the aftermath of the bombing, the left failed to see how NATO intervention was also leveled at dismembering the indigenous liberation struggle of the Kosovar population. Behind these errors, the author argues for philosophic reform of left analysis, that will move beyond binary oppositions of imperialism/anti-imperialism, into more dialectical engagement with historical particulars, especially when those particulars involve emerging indigenous movements for liberation.
55. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Cliff DuRand Making the World Safe for US: Cultural Roots of the USA Interventionism
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In the roots of political culture in the USA, Tocqueville long ago noted with concern an individualism that could undercut needed structures of shared community. This individualism, argues the author, is one key feature of American culture that tends to empower military interventionism by empowering American elites to go their own way and pursue their own interests, without too much worry that they will be held accountable to more communitarian standards. Yet, American culture is not one-sided, and the author encourages public appeals to another, balancing cultural value, that of republicanism. The author also touches briefly on the cultural tradition of American messianism and its value to globe-conquering elites.
56. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Abstracts
57. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Greg Moses Desire at the Docks: A Preview
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In this introductory essay the editor places the broad movement of Marxist philosophy into a tradition that, since Plato, has endeavored to stimulate desire for concepts of justice, in contexts of flourishing commercial power. Although Plato and the modern philosopher both know the risks of such undertakings (it was majority rule that put Socrates to death), and although powerful commercial interests have never been altogether comfortable in philosophical company, nevertheless the academy and the work of philosophy proves to be a curious necessity, as this collection of essays demonstrates.
58. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Robert Ware Creating Organizations and Institutions for Radical Democracy
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Typical philosophies of liberation often assume, and sometimes argue, that freedom and democracy will be best experienced through an absence of institutions. Contrary to this trend in theory, the author argues that a better philosophy of liberation will seek to transform institutions, rather than abolish them. Using examples of cooperative experiments in the Basque territories and in Brazil, the author argues that experiences of liberation are achieved through new forms of institutional life that nurture participatory and egalitarian relationships between people.
59. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Len Krimerman One Cheer for Experimental Pluralism, Another for Education-Shaped Democracy
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In reply to a chapter by Robert Ware on the need to include, rather than eliminate, institutions in theories of liberation, the author warns that liberation theory must walk on both social and psychological legs and then argues that Ware’s comparative analysis of institutions fails to lead analysis into crucial reflection on how individuals are transformed. Drawing on the work of John Dewey and George Benello, the author argues that an educational philosophy can offer a helpful framework for thinking about relationships between institutions and individuals, such that genuinely democratic institutions would be recognized as being more developmentally educative for individuals involved. The chapter also contains a brief reply by Ware.
60. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Harry Targ Class and Race in the USA Labor Movement: The Case of the Packinghouse Workers
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Drawing on several recent studies, and a few personal interviews with leadership, the author reviews the history (1937-1968) of the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA) in order to demonstrate how this Chicago-based labor movement exemplified radical commitments to social welfare and civil rights, in addition to more traditional concerns with pay and other shopfloor issues. Not only did the union have significant membership among African-American workers, but it also undertook active programs of anti-racism in order to fight racial discrimination with its own ranks. The union also resisted much of the anti-communist politics of the post-Cold War era, resulting in a tradition of racial commitments to “social unionism.” For example, this was one of the first unions to offer financial support to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference soon after the civil rights organization was founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.