Telos

Online ISSN: 1940-459X
Print ISSN: 0090-6514
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Even before the global economic crisis, philosophers Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou proposed a need for conceptualizing communism within today's circumstances. For both thinkers, Mao Zedong is of central importance. According to Zizek's recent work In Defense of Lost Causes, the Maoist Cultural Revolution was not radical enough because Mao did not allow his own monopoly of state power to be challenged, while cynically calling for an upheaval of Chinese society. For Alain Badiou, this failed experiment in radical politics signals the death of the emancipatory potential of the Leninist Party-State, and a need to re-imagine communism with a new vocabulary and set of practices that occurs at a distance from the State. My paper will argue that any project for radical political change will inevitably fail as long as its authority is invested with a theological status. The sainthood of revolutionary leaders and untouchable status of their ideology signals a retreat from the complexity and messiness of the political and a return to religion as a form of social control. Using Maoism in China as my particular case, I claim that popular perceptions of Mao closely resemble Christian saint worship and, thus, are emptied of political meaning. A popular saying in China is: 'If Mao is in your heart, all things in all cases will be successful.' Such a sentence might keep Mao the divinity alive and preserve his body in Tiananmen, but buries any trace of politics.
 
La liberalización de precios para los libros de la enseñanza obligatoria regulada por ley en 2007 provocó la reflexión de los editores de manuales de texto, tradicionales defensores del precio fijo como garantía de supervivencia del sector, que terminaron concluyendo que el precio libre resulta menos dañino que la política de precios fijos con descuentos ilimitados.
 
En este artículo se refiere cómo los países de América Latina aún no han clarificado su postura respecto a la utilización de la fibra óptica. Múltiples interrogantes se abren a su utilización y sólo Brasil destaca en lo que a su fabricación se refiere. p.105-110.
 
El proceso de digitalización de la radio está excesivamente centrado en los estándares técnicos de transmisión, de resultado bastante incierto en muchos países, olvidando así que el mundo digital implica un sistema más complejo, de implicaciones variadas. https://telos.fundaciontelefonica.com/archivo/numero073/un-proceso-productivo-digital-para-un-negocio-analogico/?output=pdf
 
El presente artículo muestra los resultados de recientes investigaciones en España dedicadas a indagar el uso que los telespectadores infantiles hacen de la televisión y medir ¿la cantidad y calidad de la programación infantil¿. El trabajo pone de manifiesto una escasa preocupación por parte de los programadores por la audiencia infantil: faltan contenidos adecuados a las necesidades de los niños y programas emitidos en horarios razonables.
 
Este artículo propone un acercamiento al fenómeno reciente de los observatorios operativos en Iberoamérica que trabajan con cuestiones relacionadas con la información, la comunicación y la cultura. Son resultados de una investigación en marcha destinada a analizar la diversidad de 61 instituciones seleccionadas.
 
© 1998 Telos Press Publishing. Permission to reproduce article granted by the publisher.
 
The concept of the exception has heavily shaped modern political theory. In modernity, Kierkegaard was one of the first philosophers to propound the exception as a facilitator of metaphysical transcendence. Merging Kierkegaard’s metaphysical exception with early modern political theorist Jean Bodin’s theory of sovereignty, Carl Schmitt introduced sovereignty to metaphysics. He thereby made an early modern concept usable in a post-metaphysical world. This essay carries Schmitt’s appropriation one step further. Drawing on Walter Benjamin’s replacement of transcendental metaphysics with contingent creaturehood, it reintroduces the anti-foundationalist concept of repetition that was implicit in Kierkegaard’s paradigm but which was not made lucid until Benjamin crafted from the Schmittian exception a vision of political life grounded in creaturely existence.
 
The aim of this paper is admittedly modest. Although it is situated in a field characterized by grand institutional designs and utopian projects, the field of supranational democracy, my sole aim here is to examine one specific strategy deployed by a number of political theorists writing in this field. These authors come from very different backgrounds - they range from Pierre Manent and John Pocock to Larry Siedentop and Jean Cohen - yet they all share one important idea: in response to models for global governance that seek to relocate sovereignty to a supranational level or to disperse sovereignty vertically over different levels (e.g. global federalism, deliberative supranationalism, networked governance), these authors continue to advocate the importance of the nation-state and of state sovereignty. They do not do so, however, from a traditional nationalist, liberal-nationalist or communitarian vantage point. Rather, these authors seem to be playing with a more intriguing idea: the rise of supranational political institutions provides the nation-state with a new or at least an altered raison d’être. Thus, rather than clinging to the nation-state’s past achievements, these authors are reconceptualizing the role of the nation-state in light of our new, global constellation. Their focus is squarely on the fact that our current political constellation comes with new risks and challenges. Yet in opposition to the optimism of cosmopolitan democrats, they soberly maintain that in these new circumstances the nation-state, a system of territorially bounded sovereignty with political representation centered on a single level, remains an indispensable “political form”. As such, they go against the bandwagon story about the inevitable withering away of the nation-state.
 
El texto desarrolla los interrogantes sobre la acumulación de creatividad en las áreas urbanas, sus condiciones exigidas, el papel público y los resultados no siempre felices.
 
This 1987 article in the critical theory journal Telos examined the counterinsurgency carried out in Guatemala during the late 1970s and 1980s by the Guatemalan army and security forces, and the country's transition to civilian democracy in 1986 under the presidency of Vinicio Cerezo. The article, as an exercise in radical sociology of the Left, argues sharply that the transition is little more than the appearance of democracy, while beneath lies a "permanent counterinsurgency" and authoritarian control by the army. Based on extensive interviews by the authors with many actors in Guatemala, including leading military officers, it offers an inside look at how the Guatemalan military leadership conceived its extensive and brutal counterinsurgency campaign, particularly by comparison to other conflicts in Central America at the time - El Salvador and Nicaragua in particular. Although parts of the account are of course dated twenty years later (it suffers particularly from the authors' youthful radical social theory, in which seemingly nothing, not even in principle, could show "actual" democracy as opposed to mere false consciousness) it is noteworthy for two features today. First, it offers an uncompromising account of what counterinsurgency requires, in the view of the Guatemalan army, including its view of the US-advised strategy of "hearts and minds" in neighboring El Salvador. That account remains relevant today by comparison to US counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Second, it observes that the success of the Guatemalan army's countersinsurgency depended crucially upon its internal nationalist coherence against corruption, whether by the private interests of the oligarchy which, strikingly, is clearly distinguished as often working against the interests of the "nation" by army officers - or the then-emerging drug trade. Twenty years later, Guatemala, including its military, oligarchs, and others, are all deeply enmeshed in the drug trade and the effect is tearing apart society in ways often more extreme than, but overshadowed by, neighboring Mexico.
 
La comunicación de masas no es un campo de trabajo exclusivo de los comunicólogos. Los agentes típicos del mundo culto -las universidades, los museos de arte, buena parte de la literatura- también hoy incluyen fenómenos de masas. Con el arte popular sucede algo semejante: las artesanías distribuidas extensamente en los grandes centros urbanos, las fiestas tradicionales que atraen a multitudes de turistas o son transmitidas por TV. Estos hechos son bien conocidos. Pero es más reciente la transformación de las disciplinas dedicadas a lo culto y a lo popular, anteriores a los estudios comunicacionales (la historia del arte, el folklore, la antropología), que reformulan sus objetos y métodos de investigación para conocer los nuevos procesos. p.13-20.
 
It is easy to sympathize with the contemporary urge to be post something. But if the affix is to have historical cogency, it must be restricted to: Post Late-Capitalism. We are back to that beginning, where the pristine blossoms with a stale exhalation. This is why the conference question — “Does Critical Theory Have A Future?” — seems so weirdly chipper: as if the Future were straight ahead and doubt overshadows just this one paper boat — Critical Theory — as it sails out of pre-war Germany onto the high seas of all time-to-come. Will Critical Theory make it? Probably not, it is implied. So far as this Future is concerned, leaving everything behind, stamped “obsolete,” is a matter of principle.
 
An expression like “Power without State” sounds ambiguous since it combines different things. Here it is used to indicate two distinct phenomena — those societies in which power is not located in a State or its apparatuses, and those forms of diffuse power within societies that do have a State, and which grew outside or against it. This may seem arbitrary rather than ambiguous since it attempts to couple cultures and histories which we have always been accustomed to consider separately — primitive societies and today's Western world. It is a juxtaposition based on a negative definition which, as such, is weak because its object remains blurred in no longer being anchored to the State and it is upon die state that our image of power is tied.
 
For Giddens, modernity can be defined in terms of the “modes of social life or organization which emerged in Europe from about the 17th century onwards and which subsequently became more or less worldwide in their influence” (1). In pre-modern social systems, tradition “is a means of handling time and space, which inserts any particular activity or experience within the continuity of past, present, and future, these in turn being structured by recurrent social practices” (37). That is, time and space are intimately entwined. The horizons of social life are restricted. But modernity articulates a radically different attitude towards time and space because the world has become disenchanted.
 
Self-management in all its rich and varied meanings has always been closely wedded to technical developments — often to an extent that has not received the explicit attention it deserves. By emphasizing the association between the two, I do not mean to advance a crude, reductionist theory of technological determinism. People are completely social beings. They develop values, institutions and cultural relationships which either foster or inhibit the evolution of technics. It need hardly be emphasized that basic technical inventions such as the steam engine, so vital to capitalism, indeed to early industrial society, were known to the Hellenistic world more than two millenia ago.
 
In the last few years Paul Feyerabend has developed an interesting and in some ways important critique of positivist philosophy of science, and in particular, of the Popperian school. It is ironic that it should emanate from a former acolyte of Popper's ‘critical rationalism,’ and doubly ironic that the position in which Feyerabend ends up should still nevertheless bear the stigmata of Popper's influence. Popper's characterization of the advance of scientific knowledge as a revolutionary process, whereby theories vigorously compete with each other, the successful ones being the survivors of repeated tests devised by an open, self-critical, scientific community, had already been called into question by Kuhn.
 
The question of science has become rather important from several perspectives. The disintegration of the positivist model of science and the scientific community seem objective, progressive and rational. The question of science also arises in the developing struggle between the technocratic elites and populist intellectuals. Such debates may have a role in the development of genuine mass movements which undercut the priviledged position of such elites, as happened in some phases of the Cultural Revolution in China. More generally, the technocratic society has turned into a leaky ship, sailing a dangerous strait bounded by the possibility of nuclear holocaust on one side and massive ecological collapse on the other.
 
Before commenting on the “Introduction” to Telos 108 by Piccone, Berman and Ulmen, I want to cite two distinctions relevant to my discussion of it. First, federalism and populism are separate concepts, whatever it turns out is the proper meaning of populism and whether or not the intent of the Introduction was to argue for both. Federalism concerns a type of social organization held to be preferable for relatively complex commercial societies; the kind of societies that presently dominate the first world. It consists of relatively autonomous units united under a mutually agreed upon constitutional framework assigning strictly limited responsibilities and duties to a central state authority.
 
The theme of the IVth International Phenomenological Colloquium dealt with by five main speakers (Gerhard Funke, Enzo Paci, Ante Pazanin, Stephan Strasser, and Suzanne Bachelard) has been developed on two different levels and with two different languages: truth and verification as logical themes, and truth and verification as phenomenological themes of the Lebenswelt. Is the source of this bifurcation to be found in the Colloquium or in Husserl's own thought? This is what Paul Ricoeur asked in his lucid and conclusive talk — an extremely important talk meant to clearly formulate the problem which should have been the point of departure and not the result of the whole conference.
 
Several years ago, a West Berlin city official made a rather surprising discovery. Although Shakespeare's plays have occupied a prominent place in German culture since the 18th century and are still the most frequently performed in West German theater there was no street in the whole city bearing his name. Here was a state of affairs clearly in need of remedy: a city with dozens of streets named after generals and military victories might well wish, in the interest of balance, to commemorate an international cultural hero. In this spirit, on September 25, 1987, the Lord Mayor of London, the British Commander of Berlin, and the Mayor of West Berlin gathered to consecrate a newly created Shakespeare Square next to the Berlin Opera and to unveil a monumental bust of the timeless bard, a gift from the City of London on the occasion of Berlin's 750th anniversary.
 
Kula's An Economic Theory of the Feudal System analyzes the non-monetarized natural economy of precapitalist Poland. On the other hand, Vilar's A History of Gold and Money 1450-1920 discusses the role of precious metals and money in the developing market relations of nascent European capitalism. Despite the obvious differences in subject matter, the works are complementary. They both address the issues of economic rationalization and “development,” and reflect the mutual influences of Marxism (although less in the case of Vilar) and the Annales school of economic and social history—so much so that they must be discussed in reference to it in order to be understood properly.
 
The universalist project of modernity centers on the abolition of personal rule and subordination. For this reason, the principles of the French Revolution — liberté-egalité-fraternité — have been appealed to by generations of feminists, from revolutionary contemporaries such as Olympe de Gouges, who wrote Declaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne in 1791, to the German abolitionist Anna Pappritz in 1900, and Elizabeth Badinter today. In her account of the French women's movement, Pappritz wrote: “More than a century ago the sonorous phrases liberté, egalité, fraternité, a second gospel as it were, rang like bells through the world, promising a new and better time, but with regard to the female half of humanity they turned into shrill dissonance and bitter irony.”
 
Why Mahler wrote the “Songs on the Death of Children,” set to the Rückert poems, became clear to me when, for the first time in my life, a loved one died. This feeling — to be bent together to the breaking point in a powerful arc between tenderness for what is nearest and loss into what is most distant — does not have its measure in the individual misfortune which transports children into the realm of the dead. Yet the dead are indeed our children. The aura of the unfinished, which, as a halo of sacredness, surrounds those who have died prematurely, does not flicker out even in the case of adults.
 
Excerpt In the tradition of classical political economy, Marx is usually read as an oppositional figure, rejecting the optimistic dogma of free trade and replacing it with a catastrophic vision of capitalism's self-destruction. Yet Marx was also a cosmopolitan figure who, like the classical economists, rejected a narrow nationalism for the vision of an internationally just economic sphere. The Communist Manifesto, for example, is addressed to “Workers of All Nations” and not just German workers. Marx saw his intervention as a combination of idealist German philosophy, radical French politics, and English economics.¹ Marx's own travels from the Rhineland of his birth…
 
Standpoint epistemologies fascinate contemporary intellectuals, yet few of them seem to understand their significance or their implications. For example, in the recent over-publicized culture wars, standpoint epistemologies — frequently and mistakenly identified as various forms of philosophical or cultural relativism — have played a prominent role in conservative polemics against multiculturalism and literary theory (the unspecified relation between the two is one of the most peculiar aspects of these attacks). Thus, Dinesh D'Souza — to take the best known example — lumps a variety of “theories” together and criticizes them for attacking the bases of Western thought, the belief that knowledge is “value-free, disinterested, and universal.”
 
In my original statement on Proposition 187 and in the subsequent commentary, there are several discrete issues which, to be understood, must be separated. In the context of the original article on democracy, my statement is nothing more than an affirmation of a people's right to make decisions for itself and a repudiation of the elitist despotism of the federal courts. Elías José Palti, however, would like to construe the statement as an expression of 1) opposition to immigration from Mexico, 2) of a desire to maintain the ethnic status quo in California and the US, and 3) an explicitly racist theory of ethnic hierarchy.
 
What men and women love has probably never been less protected from misery and oblivion than during the time when Herbert Marcuse, who wrote those words, lived and died. Part of his greatness, in which he took after his own culture hero, Orpheus the liberator, who with geniune philosophy “responds to the fact of death with the Great Refusal,” is to have affirmed this possibility of both life and death without anxiety at a time when even life with anxiety has been rendered probelmatic by the technology of domination. I do not know whether Marcuse died without anxiety at a moment of his own choosing.
 
Since the time of the German Romantics, “culture” has been a prime rallying cry of vocal groups hostile to modern society. Most broadly, the term is used to indicate a humanist, perhaps classical, style of life, wherein social relations are said to foster heroic virtues, where excellence is the target of aspirations, and reason, mind, soul, or spirit dominate other human attributes. More narrowly, proponents of “culture” mean those artistic and intellectual activities widely conceded the epithet “high” and considered to be peculiarly valuable insights into or expressions of the human spirit. In either case, the critics set “culture” over against “mass society” or “civilization” and charge that “industrialization” or “democratization” or “bourgeoisification” generates the less desirable condition at the expense of the more desirable.
 
I have been preparing these remarks for a very long time. I met Leo Lowenthal in August, 1968, when I was beginning research for my dissertation on the history of the Frankfurt School. I had just turned 24 and he was a few months shy of his 68th birthday. I came to Berkeley to interview him about his role in the School's history and to pore over his copious files of unpublished materials and correspondence, which proved a real treasure trove for my project. Leo soon showed himself no less of an historian's dream, as he patiently responded to all of the questions raised by the documents he had so painstakingly preserved from both before and after the trauma of his exile from Germany.
 
Despite its modest title, Scherrer's volume is one of the most important studies on the history of ideology published in this decade. It is, firstly, an exhaustive chronology of the aspirations of Russian religious philosophy between 1900 and the revolutions of 1917, in which these aspirations took concrete form in rather heterogeneous groups. It is the chronicle of a heretical religious and ideological movement in the intelligentsia which, at the time of the obvious crisis of the Orthodox Church, became engaged in discussion and dialogue with oficial Church representatives. The debates ended in an irreversible break between the most consistent adherents of this tendency (i.e., those who actually became heretics) and the representatives of the Orthodox clergy.
 
Bloch's correspondence, published the year of his hundredth birthday, evokes a period of German philosophy which today seems forever gone. In exile in Switzerland at the outbreak of WWI, Czechoslovakia and the United States during die Nazi period and in bodi Germanies after 1945, Bloch epitomized an extraordinary symbiosis of the Jewish and the German spirits. Benjamin, Adorno, and Bloch were assimilated Jews unaware of their identity (or difference) except dirough the disdainful look of others. They saw themselves primarily within the tradition of German philosophy. In German Idealism and, above all, in Schelling and in the Kabbalah, Bloch discovered die theology of immanence in the tradition of Isaac Luria and Jakob Boehme.
 
This long overdue translation of Oscar Anweiler's Die Rätebewegung in Russland (1958) is a welcome one not only because so little exists in English on the Russian Soviets and their relation to the Bolshevik Party's theory and practice, but because so much mystification exists on the Left concerning this relationship. Anweiler's book begins to lay the basis for a critical history of Bolshevism and the Soviets as political institutions of revolutionary democracy. (The counterparts of the Soviets in the economic sphere, the workers' councils, receive only skimpy and inadequate treatment.) If the work falls short, as it ultimately does, it is because it remains too much at the level of formal institutional history, especially after 1917.
 
Tragedy has stalked the recent past. It is neither the tragedy of the aesthete nor the politician. It is a tragedy that cannot be redeemed either through catharsis or reason, some deus ex machina or even a new order. The tragedy is nothing other than death itself; death in all its meanness, greyness, and senselessness. Beyond the intoxicating Heideggerian and neo-romantic drivel wherein death appears as the “authentic” moment of human existence, as the decisive resolution in the confrontation with one's “Being,” there is actually only the loss — the end to be avoided, the end that cannot be avoided.
 
In his 1967 preface to History and Class Consciousness, Lukacs' admission of a crucial confusion concerning the Marxian concepts of reification and objectification and his consequent failure to provide a concrete foundation for the notion of “imputed” class consciousness simply confirmed a problem whose broad outlines had been diagnosed and were already forming the critical backbone of ‘Western Marxism’. In the attempt to reformulate Marxist theory to oppose to the ossified dogmas of official “orthodox” Marxism, critical Marxists were generally agreed on Lukacs' ‘abstract dialectics’, ‘subjectivistic voluntarism’ and ‘objectivistic idealism'. Consequently, as Laura Boella's references amply demonstrate, there is a wealth of literature focusing on the principal lacunae associated with Lukacs' concept of reification and its relation to aesthetics, his theories of labor, alienation, totality, consciousness and of the dialectic.
 
As a materialist theory of history and society which has placed its hopes on the consciousness and activity of the proletariat, Marxism has nurtured an endemic hostility to those “idealists” who come to the left from outside the working class: the intellectuals. The intellectuals have, in turn, responded with an equally long lasting and endemic tradition: self-abuse, and guilt, a kind of permanant legitimation crisis of left intellectuals who yearn to join the collective identical subject-object of history. A primitive “sociology of the intellectuals” has been the theoretical handmaiden of the often unhappy marriage of Marxism and the intellectuals. It postulates that because intellectuals are far removed from “material production” and or the proletariat, they are susceptible to a number of “idealist” viruses such as humanism, individualism or cultural criticism.
 
In 1909, in a short essay on the great Hungarian poet Endre Ady, the young Lukács wrote that Ady was “the poet of the Hungarian revolutionaries without a revolution. Ady's audience is pathetically grotesque. It consists of men who feel there is no help other than revolution. Who see that everything that is was never new or good … but bad, which cannot be corrected, which must be destroyed to give place to new possibilities. There would be need for a revolution but it is impossible to have hope even in the distant possibility of attempting one. There would be only leaders….”
 
Three more books, all beautifully produced and well-written, have been added to the recent crop of works circling around the concept of “modernity.” Perhaps one should include in this review some side glances at earlier publications such as Peter Gay's Freud, Jews and Other Germans (Oxford University Press, 1978), Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin's Wittgenstein's Vienna (Simon & Schuster, 1973), William McGrath's Dionysian Art and Populist Politics (Yale University Press, 1974), and also two previews: the speech Jiirgen Habermas gave on the occasion of his acceptance of the Theodor Adorno Prize (partially published in Die Zeit, September 1980) and Marshall Berman's All That's Solid Melts into Thin Air (Simon & Schuster, forthcoming), as well as the anthology, Modernism, by Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarland (Penguin, 1976).
 
He was almost a year older than my father. Yet when I learned of his death on February 12 in Paris I did not have the sense of an orderly passing of generations. Julio Cortázar had the personal as well as the literary ability of remaining young. It was the combination of a nimble mind, the experimental quality of his narrative, and the uncanny resilience of his lean figure to the routine ravages of time (he looked a good 25 years younger than his age). He stood tall in a generation of splendid Latin American writers. As Carlos Fuentes has remarked, he is the first figure of what is known as the Latin American boom to go.
 
After the recent deaths of Hans Speier and Felix Gilbert at age eighty-five, the number of persons is ever growing smaller who witnessed Hitler's seizure of power in 1933 and escaped to lead productive lives, giving and taking, in an adoptive country. On February 28 Reinhard Bendix died in Berkeley, three days after celebrating his seventy-fifth birthday with friends and colleagues. He was done neither with writing nor with teaching. Stricken by a final heart attack, he collapsed into the arms of his seminar students — an ideal end for a scholar who took “science as a vocation” so seriously. Until the end he struggled how best to explain social reality and his own scholarly approach to students who seemed to remain forever young, while advancing age removed him more and more from their immediate life experience.
 
Cohen is well known as the author of the 1973 biography, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution. We learn more about Bukharin in the pivotal chapter of his new “revisionist” overview of sovietology, which illustrates how the man became a myth, and which serves also to justify Cohen's own analysis. The chapter is literally povital: it comes after two chapters which explain both the failures of American sovietology and the possibility of a better — if not more democratic — Soviet Union in the post-Stalin age characterized by a choice between reformism and conservatism. The scholarly “revisionism” Cohen champions is thus also political — although the political implications are found more directly in his recently published collection of columns from The Nation titled Sovieticus: Soviet Realities and American Perceptions (Norton, 1985).
 
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