I'm Remi, a New Yorker living in Virginia who's going to grad school for public policy/national security & organizational theory. I've got a huge interest in pokemon, science fiction, history, architecture, and feminist/critical theory, especially applied to international relations. Heads up, I'm a social democrat/liberal Marxist, critical theorist, and a feminist
Posts tagged philosophy
RG Collingwood, “The Idea of History”
Why is this still relevant to like all of the social sciences ugh
so what’s the Marxist explanation for Marx not predicting fascism?
Fascism was an extension of the ideology of management/Taylorism (at least in its Italian form). Management was the capitalist response to people attempting to expand democracy from the political sphere to the economic one which argued that having an authoritarian figure in the workplace (the manager) was better for everyone because everyone worked more efficiently.
This efficiency argument was combined with several other societal aspects (weak governing traditions in Italy, the legacy of Versailles in Germany) to become this revolutionary ideology which aped the ideas of Marxism while arguing that the people need a strong ruler to decide things for them.
A similar argument is echoed nowadays by the admiration that some people have of China’s authoritarian system and the hatred that we have towards a Congress that gets nothing done. Yes, policy inactivity is highly problematic during a time like this but seeing democracy as a process that can be cut through via an authoritarian ruler is one of the key thought processes of Taylorism, and that our society would develop in such a way that democracy is fiercely argued for in politics but not the workplace was not something Marx envisioned because to someone in the 19th century such an idea wouldn’t make sense.
The general idea of management is that it emerged in response to the increasing complexity of the workplace, and the organizational needs of the factory. This is not supported by the facts, however. The Pyramids of Pharonic Egypt and the plantations of the prewar American South required just as complex an operation and just as massive a workplace to ‘manage’ as the 20th Century factory. What was different in the 20th century was the emergence of egalitarian ideas such as democracy, socialism, and abolitionism.
In their early stages, these ideas were far more linked than we would think—why stop at democratic politics? Why stop at the abolition of chattel slavery? The liberal and socialist parties of the early 19th century saw a strong link between the chattel slavery of the plantation and the wage slavery of the factory, and the Republican party in its earliest stages sought to abolish both (Beatty 2008). The Knights of Labor, an early trade union, sought to bring American democracy to the economic sphere via “a periodical division of property”, and there is significant evidence that Karl Marx was strongly influenced by American labor during the early 1840s (Jacobin 2012, “Wage-Slavery and Republican Liberty”).
The idea that democracy should be extended further led to massive levels of unrest during the 19th century. The July Revolution in France included a battle between the ‘reds’ who argued for social democracy and ‘whites’ who argued for a liberal one. Unrest led to violence throughout the Western world as elites attempted bridge the contradiction between all men being equal in the polls while the workplace remained fiercely hierarchical.
This is why management emerged, not as a technical solution to a technical problem but a political reaction by those in power. After the French and American Revolutions, the obvious question to a democratically minded person was “why do we have a democracy in our politics but not in our workplace?”. Management served to conceptualize the workplace as an ‘other place’ where the ideologies we generally accept do not apply and to reestablish the need for an authoritarian figure. Yes, we need democracy because democracy is good, but if we let workers decide their work it would be horrible because people are selfish and lazy is the argument started by Frederick Taylor and taken up by his successors. This is why management emerged first in America, where the tension between political equality and economic imbalance was conceptually the strongest. And this is why Taylor’s work expanded the most in the response to the Red Terror that followed the Soviet Union’s founding. A Critical History of Management Thought, 1st Draft
Socrates, father of philosophy? More like absentee father of positivism
“Hey I found this one cool method lets use it in EVERY SITUATION”
Reccomendations on Books on Politics, the economy or philosophy.
Please and thank you!
This is a thing I wrote of my book recommendations
Beyond that, Giadomenico Majone wrote a book about the philosophy of policy (but it has sections on the philosophy of analysis it’s really just a collection of essays) which is really helpful called Evidence, Persuasion, and the policy process
Are walls inside or outside?
another sad, awkward post about my old friends
i wonder all the time, which of us is going to be published first? (if any?)
drive vs. the wheel of life/Žižek on buddhism
“Buddhism has a blind spot: how did the fall into samsara, the Wheel of Life, occur? This enigma is the exact opposite of the main Buddhist concern: how can we break out of the Wheel of Life and attain nirvana? The nature and origin of the impetus by means of which desire (deception) emerged out of the Void is the big unknown in the heart of the Buddhist edifice: it points towards an act that “breaks the symmetry” within nirvana itself and thus makes something appear out of nothing (as in quantum physics with its notion of symmetry-breaking). The Freudian answer is the drive:what Freud calls the “drive” is not, as it may appear,the Buddhist Wheel of Life, the craving that enslaves us to the world of illusions.The drive, on the contrary, goes on even when the subject has “traversed the fantasy” and broken out of its illusory craving for the (lost) object of desire.And therein lies the difference between Buddhism and psychoanalysis, reduced to its formal minimum: for Buddhism, after Enlightenment (or “traversing the fantasy”), the Wheel no longer turns, the subject desubjectivizes itself and finds peace;for psychoanalysis, on the other hand, the wheel continues to turn, and this continued turning-of-the-wheel is the drive.”
God fucking damnit Zizek,
Of course nothing can emerge from nothingness, that’s half of the fucking point. The wheel of life isn’t extant, it is a product of flawed perception—in fact, nothing exists*.
BUT NO ZIZEK
YOU FIGURED IT OUT
YOU FIGURED OUT BUDDHISM
*This is the simplest, simplest version of Buddhism. The idea of Enlightenment, and of Nothingness, vary greatly between sects and referring to all of Buddhism is kind of silly, especially when talking about ‘Enlightenment’ which is a point of contention across different schools—some Chinese/Japanese variants of Zen hold that true Enlightenment is a gradual process without end, which eliminates Zizek’s distinction
I think you are slightly missing the point. Firstly, you are dismissing Zizek because he did not account for the variety of interpretations of the Wheel of Life between sects. Maybe this makes his reasoning specious or overly generalizing but it hardly detracts from the main point. Indeed, the creation of the Wheel of Life, for Zizek, probably functions as a blind spot not because Zizek is a poor scholar and is overly simplifying, but perhaps precisely because of the multiplicity of interpretations. Which is to say, that it is true that there are categorical or terminological distinctions of enlightenment and nothingness between sects but the two concepts remain a point of reference, difference, misunderstanding, and misrecognition (similar to the virgin birth in Christianity or the mystery of Christ’s divinity and humanity). Zizek thus asks the apparently naive but hard question of how the Wheel of Life began and what it is. Buddhism cannot answer the question or perhaps answers the question but not in a sensical discursive way. Hence the reason in the first place for differing interpretations resulting in differing religious praxis - which is why Buddhism is essentially a religion first before it is a philosophical system). This renders the critique that “some Chinese/Japanese variants of Zen hold that true Enlightenment is a gradual process without end, which eliminates Zizek’s distinction” a moot point. Zizek’s lack of sensitive or accurate differentiation and representation of any particular sect’s views on enlightenment might not be politically correct but the real difference here is between psychoanalysis and Buddhism and the respective ‘end goals’ of the fields.
Secondly, it is not obvious why nothing comes from nothing and why nothing has the appearance of something. One can insist this as a ‘truth’ at the level of an empirical fact: there is only nothing what we see as reality is an illusion. Yes, but this is not satisfying for a philosopher, we are looking for a cause. Again, Buddhism doesn’t have the answer. Something coming from nothing requires an ‘act’ or an ‘event’ that causes this phenomenon. Even if existence is a deception, the deception exists so we are in the problematic of Parmenides. Here, Zizek notes a superficial similarity between Buddhism and psychoanalysis: the Wheel of Life is the cause of desire. Indeed, the drive is also the cause of desire. The Wheel of Life is at the level of an imaginary misrecognition of nothingness. The constitution of reality is always already at the level of deception. Thus the priority of Buddhism is to move beyond the deception and to a higher reality (nothingness). The fall fascinates Zizek because it is a moment in Buddhism that brushes up against psychoanalysis. While logically or formally the Wheel of Life and the drive may produce the same effect of desire, the drive is at a different register: that of the real. The drive is a self-caused material impetus that is the movement of void itself. The void’s ontological consistency is essentially as an infinite. But the logical identity of the infinite implies its opposite ‘finitude.’ The void is thus infinitely self-differentiating into an infinite multiplicity of finite ‘moments.’ This determination is the surrealism of the void: both particular and universal, singular and multiple, the One and the many. This is why the Lacanian real is equivalent to the void: it is both undifferentiated and infinitely differentiating. Of course, the ‘interruption’ or ‘act’ that assigns the void its logical consistency is its identification in language. It is this step that is not taken by Buddhism - it is another blind spot. This is thus another formal difference between psychoanalysis and Buddhism: the later is at best at the level of a phenomenology and the former is at the level of a dialectical materialism.
The goal here is to differentiate Buddhism and psychoanalysis (an all-too-easy and popular synthesis). Zizek does not want to solve or explain Buddhism. He merely notes that psychoanalysis steps in and takes up a priority that is not considered in Buddhism. He wants to make it clear: the drive (or what a Buddhist would call the Wheel of Life) is not strictly an illusion. It is a positive force in the constitution or organization of reality. You cannot just pull away the veil of desire and reveal a higher reality. Without drive there would be (pardon the pun) less than nothing: neither existence or non-existence, being or nothingness.
In general. it is truly easy to dismiss a great thinker because they evidently do not understand a particular position or field with the same nuance as you. One should allow a thinker to make a point about something and find out why it might be true before you assume it isn’t. Just for the sake of argument.
My issue is that Zizek is arguing against the Western interpretation of Buddhism, thus the problem with A)referring to Buddhism as a whole and then referring to one specific tenet that shifts along sects (which would be like saying “the problem with Christianity is that we aren’t allowed to drink the blood of Christ”), B)Assuming that time functions linearly in Buddhist thinking, and most critically C)Assuming that the Enlightened being loses one’s drive (the Buddha died of pork consumption for Buddha’s sake)
Good point on looking at through the eyes of the thinker when engaging with them, but the issue is Zizek is going against your criticism of my criticism—he’s engaging with the West’s Buddhism, rather than Buddhism-as-self. Which may be useful in his attempt to create a distinction that psychoanalysis fills, but it’s disingenuous to a degree. As you say I am, Zizek is not engaging with Buddhism within the context of Buddhist thinking—he is creating a distinction which only exists to us because we are used to religions having creation myths. He hasn’t found an internal contradiction, but a contradiction of his own thinking with the thinking of Buddhism, a contradiction which he resolves (of course!) in favor of his own thinking.
Which is precisely what you accuse me of.
another sad, awkward post about my old friends
i wonder all the time, which of us is going to be published first? (if any?)
I’m going to get a response tomorrow on whether my article gets published. If it does I’m going to reblog this again with a gif I’ve been saving for the occasion
But do not understand how to read those that lack them.
They know how to pluck the lute that has strings,
But do not know how to play the one that has none.
Caught by the form, but untouched by the spirit,
How will they get at the heart of either music or literature?
Master of the Three Ways, Book 2 (“On the Other”), section 8