The Veil of Piacular Subjectivity: Buchananism and the New World Order

Michael Pugliese debsian at
Wed Apr 19 08:36:26 PDT 2000

Just found this paper. I might need some help from Ken and others.

Michael Pugliese ............................................................................ .

The structure and logic of paleoconservative ideology is critically interrogated by focusing on the economic, cultural, and political dimensions of Buchananism and locating the phenomenon within the context of post- Fordist globalization. Recurring patterns and themes are interpreted; conceptions of power are examined; significant contradictions are discussed; and an attempt is made to provide a plausible theorization of Buchananism by focusing on what Durkheim might call the "piacular" quality of this form of imagination. My aim here is to locate the "essence" of Buchananism as it is in itself and for us. Ultimately, I argue that Buchananism represents an authoritarian and ambivalent response to globalization rooted in an experience of transgressed boundaries. Buchananism, more than a simple attempt to eradicate the corrupted Other, represents a worldview that demands "self- wounding" and suffering of the faithful. I try and make a plausible case that, though Buchananism is a response to what it perceives as chaos and ambiguous; it wills the continuation of that experience as its animating force even as it calls for its eradication. Introduction1 2

At a time when political and moral distinctions are constantly blurred - when the international order we have regarded for nearly half a century as a given is virtually collapsing and our definitions of work, art, and gender are in flux - the very notion of a social order is being questioned. At such a point it is therefore critical for us to understand the actual process by which we establish boundaries and make distinctions. How we draw these fine lines will certainly determine the kind of social order we shall have. Eviatar Zerubavel, The Fine Line

The path to catastrophe turns out to be only a fictional detour bringing us back to our starting point. Slavoj Zizek, Looking Awry

Pat Buchanan has been the public voice and conscience of American paleoconservatism for more than a decade. His campaign speeches, newspaper columns, and frequent pronouncements on political talk shows, are filled with militaristic and aggressive metaphors devoted to bashing corporations and finance capitalists uncommitted to the well-being of the United States. The "Savonarola of the Right," as Hans Haacke calls him (Bourdieu and Haacke 1995, p. 45), routinely denounces homosexuals, radicals, illegal aliens, and abortion rights advocates, among others, as morally perverse and corrosive to the American way of life; recently announcing that he would again seek the presidency of the United States, Buchanan vowed that he would, if elected, make it his job to "clean up America." All that is stupid and evil in the world, from Buchanan's perspective, is contained in the notion of what he and others call a New World Order. 3 One of the primary forces driving Buchanan and the paleo-right has been the generation-long shift away from a regime of capital accumulation known, to economic sociologists, as Fordism. The "leaner and meaner" economic world emerging in its place, so-called "post-Fordism," has been depicted in popular discourse by such phrases as a "post-industrial society" and things like cheap imports, corporate restructuring, downsizing, class and income polarization, dual-income households, and declining wages dominate our representations of this transition. The social, cultural, technological, political, and subjective transformations that have followed over the last 25 years have also been profound and these, too, have a home in Buchanan's worldview. But the social materials living in the Buchananist imagination do so only insofar as they are converted from the empirical world of processes, relations, history into a fantasy space populated by nefarious beings possessing, what can only be described as, "unearthly" or meta-physical qualities. In this paper, I attempt to comprehend the logic and structure of Buchananism by situating it within the broad context of an emerging post-Fordist society and examining this ideology's economic, cultural, political and subjective aspects. My aim is, for one, to locate the social "substance" that binds together these various manifestations and, relatedly, account for its logic of "enemy construction." After concluding that the fundamental element underpinning Buchananism is the experience of dissolving and transgressed boundaries, I try to interpret why Buchananism appears as it does by advancing a theory with enough power to grasp, if not the totality, then at least some significant aspects of this variety of thought.

Long piece, this is the URL

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