Pomo wars (Was: War as a happening thing)

Rob Schaap rws at comserver.canberra.edu.au
Tue Jan 25 21:01:46 PST 2000

G'day all,

I keep asking questions of the sort that follow, and I usually don't get answers (Angela always tries to do the right thing by me, but on matters philosophical I just don't understand her - as I usually don't understand Yoshie, who usually disagrees with Ange, causing me to be lost in a mysterious binary of some sort, I s'pose). I'll try to put some propositions as to what I think I think (indeed what I think quite a few here think and what I think Marx thought, too) and ask on each occasion if (what I take to be the 'positions' of either a Derridean deconstructionist or a Lyotardian postmodernist) D. and/or L. offer support or rejection.

I reckon a 'modernist' lefty tries:

- To seek an essence beneath the surface - substantial exploitation beneath apparent freedom, social production behind private consumption, an alienating mediation in our togetheness etc.

[Can you do this without a foundation from which to elaborate, and a positing of, a form/essence binary?]

- To see in capitalism an essential system-perpetuating relationship that is objectively true whether you be man or woman, pink or brown, sombre or gay, tall or young, untermensch or American - a relationship that is as definitively unstable as it is stabilising.

[Can you do this in a world of signifiers but no signified - of infinite contingent little-t truths ('differance') - and the infinitely incommensurable external and internal fragmentation of identities?]

- To see in a structure that allows a coming together of the exploited the possibility for a practice of resistance-through-solidarity.

[Can you do this without a grasp of the whole system (a metanarrative) and a shared sense of self?]

- To overthrow a system so matured as now to be a 'bad' thing, rather than a 'good' thing, for the sake of producing a 'better' thing.

[Can you do this without a commitment to objectivity, a human essence upon which to evaluate its many social possibilities, a notion of shared interests, and a commitment to the notions of reason and progress?]

I either have Marx wrong or some of the postal crowd wrong - or Marx was wrong or some of the postal crowd are wrong (excuse the give-away either/or binary). Which is it, and pleeeease explain.

Cheers, Rob.

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