[eDebate] on pains of circularity

Kevin Sanchez let_the_american_empire_burn
Mon Nov 3 02:16:31 CST 2008

in reply to stroube's latest,

more and more on how foucault isn't an anti-statist: we agree!


...the point being dodged is, why is someone born in kenya - then brought
to hawaii - unfit to be the american president?

obama's campaign is nationalist ("because it seeks the leadership of only
one nation"), but there seems to be a hidden xenophobic premise to *your*
reasoning, as if you were trying to turn a conservative discourse back on
itself: 'we don't wanna be led by no furreners!'. you're not only being a
stickler - which is fine i guess; you're also questioning his loyalty. so, be
more careful, is all i'm saying there. (also, my cautionary note is specific
to your rhetoric, not the constitution itself, and there's plenty of arguments
for 'correcting' bad laws by simply no longer following them, which is why
i quoted foucault as saying that liberty is a practice which no law could ever
garauntee. amending the constitution is a pesky process, to say the least,
and what's the harm of a purely symbolic law that no one enforces? ...it's
like the congressional chaplain - who cares?)


couple more points. given the nature of the electoral beast, an argument
*against* obama at this point is an argument *for* mccain. necessarily
you're pulled into the comparison, since there are only two viable options.
therefore, when you cite obama's position on warrantless wire-tapping or
the criminal justice system, those are very fine reasons to criticize him,
but unless mccain's position is better, it's not a reason not to vote for him.

now since i don't vote, i typically focus on those vast areas where the
candidates agree in order to show that americans (...that is, those who
haven't been convicted of a felony and have lived for 18 revolutions of the
earth around the sun, among other exclusions) aren't being offered a real
choice. both mccain and obama voted for the bailout, for example; so who
represents all those - perhaps a majority - who opposed it?


lastly, on foucault's politics, was his mistake supporting the socialists or
was it disassociating himself when the going got rough? ... see, this is a
classic problem of revolutionary politics: what happens on 'the morning
after' when toilets need fixing and trains need to run on time? (and we
could even include as 'revolutionary' here the neo-conservative liberation
of iraq, which failed to address this classic problem beforehand.)

in zizek's book 'in defense of lost causes', he calls foucault's support
for the iranian revolution 'a right step in the wrong direction'. he refers
to heidegger's nazism in similar terms. these were concrete attempts
to avoid sitting on the sidelines, and when both events went down in
flames, both intellectuals retreated from political engagement. that's
the context in which we're forced to read foucault's brief support and
subsequent disassociation from the french socialist party.

i don't think there's any easy answers here, but intimately related to
the problem of 'the morning after' is the problem of 'the beautiful soul'
- the person whose conscience is offended by any engagement, and so
sees fit to pass judgement on those with the courage to act in the face
of uncertainty. in this respect, sometimes the most ethical option is the
temptation we have to avoid at all costs; we have to rid ourselves of the
need for purity, for example...

if i was actually the best leader to run a certain government (we'll say
the united states federal government) and by some fluke i was actually
born in another country (we'll say kenya), then i might bandy a forged
birth certificate and otherwise refuse to drop out of the election -- as
opposed to meticulously following the letter of constitutional law while
my country goes down the tubes.

some jobs require dirty hands before you can do any good.

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