Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ersatz post

I had intended to post some videos, but the internet didn't yield any satisfactory results. Of "I take to you" by the Noble Sissle Society Orchestra feat. Lena Horne (R.I.P) there appears to exist no footage (which is a pity, because it is one of the most exhilarating songs I know). "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd can only be found in live gerontoversions.

Instead, I post some intellectual fodder by W. J. T. Mitchell, which is balm to my currently hypersensitive nerves:

The pluralist is quite happy to have his convictions exposed as dogmas so long as those dogmas are regarded as axioms of ethical and political idealism, so long as they are keept at a discreet distance from questions of power and real social relations, The moment it is suggested, however, that the pluralists' de jure tolerance for multiple truths is actually a way of rationalizing de facto domination and intolerance, the moment pluralism is exposed, as Herbert Marcuse put it, as a strategy of "repressive toleratoin," then the pluralists' happiness vanishes. The very idea that the dogmas of liberal toleration could ever be a cover for tyranny seems to great a paradox to contemplate; it could only be the strategy of a Machiavellian hypocrite, concealing his greed for power behind a mask of benevolence.
"Pluralism as Dogmatism", Critical Inquiry 12.3 (1986), 499

And Mitchell concludes: "What we need to show are the strategies by which the pluralist fools himself into thinking that his heart is pure, his principles uncorrupted by power relations" (499).

Which all reminds me a bit of Tony Judt's spot-on disassembly of the myth of Louis Althusser in an essay from which I can't quote right now cause John has taken the book to Albion.


headbang8 said...

By coincidence, an interesting piece on him from John Gray.


John Carter Wood said...

Interesting review by Gray on Judt, hb.

Judt's Reappraisals is indeed a remarkable book.

A relevant quote, perhaps, for The Wife's post:

“To flesh out his structuralist account, Althusser invented something that he and his followers called 'Ideological State Apparatuses.' In his heydey these were confined to the public and political world. In his memoirs, however, his attention was diverted to more personal matters. Althusser informs us that 'it is an irrefutable fact that the Family is the most powerful State Ideological Apparatus' (obligatory capitals), and in reflecting upon his experiences in a mental hospital he wonders 'what can now be done to free the mentally ill from the Hell created for them by the combined operations of all the Ideological State Apparatuses.' In Althusserian dogma the presence of these repressive and all-embracing ogres was held particularly responsible for the inconvenient stability and durability of liberal democracy. Of special note was the announcement that the university was, of all of these, the dominant one for our era. 'Theoretical practice' in the academic arena was thus the site of ideological battle; and philosophy was absolutely vital as the 'class struggle in theory. Scholars in their seminars were on the front line, and need feel guilty no more.'” (109-110)