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November 08, 2007

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Dejan

Jodi I'm sorry but this is just too obnoxious for words:

at several points during the Yugoslav crises Milosevic adopted the strategy dr. Zizek is explaining related to Chavez in the article,in fact, Milosevic's strategy since his inauguration was to resist neoliberal demands in this way.

But for Milosevic, dr. Zizek only had the worst qualifiers - nationalist, patriarchalist, authoritarian, aparatchik, and finally, and most erroneously, the CULPRIT of the Yugoslav crisis. (like, Slovenia DIDN'T bow to neoliberal demands and like, Slovenia's pristine position had nothing to do with it)

This is really political cabaret of the surrealist variety, but I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. If this is the future of socialism, I'd rather have technofascism, really.

Dejan

Like, when neoliberalism was winning crucial ground on the territory of Yugoslavia, dr. Zizek did not just meet its demands, he BENDED OVER to them, complete with lackey-type bootlicking, what with all those praises of imperial culture, but all that doesn't matter, it was just a part-time job anyway, we ALL MAKE MISTAKES don't we, now that job is done we can comfortably proceed with dialektik negation (tm) and praise Chavez's Stalinism, while continuing to view the Serbian one as repugnant.

rhyd

"Trying to hold on to and even extend social welfare and basic rights is not the making of hysterical demands meant to be rejected--far from it. It involves envisioning and seeking to bring about a better order."

Through the apparatus of the state, of course, presupposing and re-inforcing the playrules of the hegemony itself. If governments agree not to torture their citizens, what really has been won? That a government needs to be begged not to abolish fair trials, privacy, etc. shows the very self-imposed obstacle facing anything Left: asking for rights from a government creates the government, sustains it by placing it within the sphere of "that which can provide" or "that which legitimates."

Consider gay rights (disclaimer--i am gay): pleading for laws that would protect homosexuals, give them equal protection under the law, etc., is completely demeaning and, conversely, actually legitimates the argument against gays being treated as equals (democracy, remember, is all about debate, compromise). Any supplications on my part (be they electoral participation or protest) still remind me, and the hegemony, that they/it is/are the source of all power and I (along with everyone else on the docket of sniveling appeal) are their humble, trembling subjects.

patrick j. mullins

"This is really political cabaret of the surrealist variety, but I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. If this is the future of socialism, I'd rather have technofascism, really."

I agree, and Chavez is a clown anyway, allowing that idiotic legislature of his to be run by Warszawa et Cie, and himself as well, one presumes.

"Consider gay rights (disclaimer--i am gay): pleading for laws that would protect homosexuals, give them equal protection under the law, etc., is completely demeaning and, conversely, actually legitimates the argument against gays being treated as equals (democracy, remember, is all about debate, compromise). Any supplications on my part (be they electoral participation or protest) still remind me, and the hegemony, that they/it is/are the source of all power and I (along with everyone else on the docket of sniveling appeal) are their humble, trembling subjects."

Well, well, now isn't that a solution to something or other (or everything). Just get kind of Zen about it--come to think of it, blacks really would have gotten all the 'White Only' signs removed from the 'rest rooms' if only they'd not 'supplicated themselves'. It doesn't seem that not 'doing the supplication' has made you forget the 'hegemony', has it? Is the net result to become 'snivelling' in private? I rather think that the 'hegemony' hasn't noticed this Quakerish act. What next? Amish power?

Dale

I think, Patrick, that what rhyd means is that a push for gay men or African-Americans to be integrated within the existing regime of rights and privileges is, at some level, to operate on the terms set by hegemonic power. In the late 1960s, many African-Americans began to embrace the idea that African-Americans themselves should set the terms for their own emancipation: that in aesthetics, legal protections, foreign policy, economics, and so forth, African-Americans should posit alternatives to the liberal consensus put forward by the establishment. Rights became less about *asking for* a seat at the existing table than *asserting* a new political narrative that starts from black power as its point of departure.

One controversial idea I've seen floated by some gay men is that the debate over gay marriage should become an opportunity for us to revisit and reevaluate the *entire concept* of marriage. Rather than aspiring -- or so the argument goes -- towards a standard of family values (and rights and privileges) established by and for bourgeois heterosexual couples, queerness should interrogate the entire institution of the nuclear family.

I know what you're all thinking: it's all well and good to put forward ideals that one might eventually reach in a perfect world, but we only live in the world we're given; politics is the art of the possible. I certainly would agree that the default position of progressives should be to immediately establish parity for marginalized communities within the existing neoliberal structure. However, our imaginations should not stop there, or we will wind up acquiescing to the terms established by the hegemon.

Jodi

Rights claims, like any claims, are situated in specific contexts. The claim to a right attempts to take an aspect of the context and raise it to the status of a universal, to make it representative. In some contexts they might be a 'seat at the table,' but those are the contexts in which demanding and taking such a seat can well be disruptive of 'the establishment.'

It strikes me, then, as too easy to say that the civil rights movement was seeking to operate on the terms set by the hegemonic power. Insofar as that power was racist, denying rights to vote, assemble, education, property, etc claiming these rights contested and sought to reconfigure the hegemonic order.

The main reason it's too easy is that hegemony is not just another word for domination. It involves a more complex set of operations of inclusion, exclusion, visibility, opportunity, enjoyment, privilege, and desire. It is filled with struggle and ideological inconsistencies and contradictions. So, an order can be reconfigured, adjusted, supplemented and become more inclusive and even more just in some dimensions. That doesn't mean the rights claims were only tools of the existing order, nor does it mean that making rights claims is opposed to people setting the 'terms of their own emancipation.' Differently put, just because a term is 'given' by the hegemon doesn't mean it is owned and occupied and thoroughly determined by the hegemon (primarily because that's not how hegemony works).

sixfootsubwoofer

"Any supplications on my part (be they electoral participation or protest) still remind me, and the hegemony, that they/it is/are the source of all power[...]"

This idea troubles me, but again makes me feel good about "I prefer not to". Perhaps a refusal to supplicate can leave us, both "us" and "hegemony", with no power at all? From zero, maybe we can get somewhere? Not so sure about that...but maybe we could do some "snuggling in private" instead of "snivelling in private", which seems to me the essence of an, um, Quakerish act.

Which reminds me of the late-night tv hosts' takes on gay marriage: "If the right hates gays, they should DEFINITELY let them get married!" I can only agree with this wholeheartedly. This seems to me the opposite of what Zizek calls an "infinitely demanding" attitude. A definite "keep your bloody 'marriage', we really don't need your backward enfranchisement" is way more castrating than a supplicating plea to be included in an ancient tradition that is at present rejecting you.

I've met far too many "gay liberals" who ridiculously blame Bush's presidency on Nader, when really it was brought about by their own cowardly, if reasonable, supplications to hegemony to not simply be accepted as they are in their outsider status, but to become card-carrying members of the empire. Gay Republicans are the Right's greatest ally, gay liberals are a close second.

dejan

Gay Republicans are the Right's greatest ally, gay liberals are a close second.

Subwoofer that's because most gays like a hard muscular patriarchal rigtist big dick and don't much like flabby overly hairy Slovenian bottom meat who uses his mouth as a sex organ, namely.Shows you the deeply conservative Oedipus complex at the heart of homosexuality.

sixfootsubwoofer

"queerness should interrogate the entire institution of the nuclear family."

This, to me, falls under Critchley's "infinitely demanding" thingy, unless of course you mean turning such an interrogation of marriage into a scholastic exercise. In that case, isn't it already always going on? If you mean some sort of "cultural debate", then you've seen how far we've gotten on that front....

The "struggle" for gay marriage is not about marriage, it's about paper. Money and legality, maybe recognition, or some kind of reliance on the nuclear family that relates back to the above. It's cowardly in that those gays who struggle for legal inclusion are futilely begging for such inclusion instead of inhabiting fully the space they always have occupied, a space that both provides for their needs as well as serves as an "interstice" from which to, if not resist, then at least to observe, or interrogate. Queers fear their outsider status, when in fact they should embrace it fully. They occupy a rare position, and their failure to recognize it as such belies a dumbing down of "queerness" that only our media could have provided. (Dejan, I know you got my back here...)

I agree with Jodi that rights claims are situated in contexts that can often disturb the establishment, due to their elevation to universal status. Attempts to remove sodomy laws and job discrimination were just such universal claims, and thus found success. The problem with gay marriage is that marriage is not a right, it's a cultural/legal supplement, one desired by gays for all the wrong reasons, and hence we've experienced this horrble backlash. They've used our own greediness against us.

rhyd

To extend the tilt towards the question of "gay rights:" my partner of 7 years and I, along with another 6 couples with whom we are friends have all decided not to claim common-law/domestic-partnership rights in canada where we now live. Our discussions concerning the issue have as much to do with suspicion (why register?) as it does with the certainty that the state should be seen as dishonest in its offer of protection/rights.

but to address Jodi's point about reconfiguration, I would bring up Foucault's angry ravings against gay marriage and his dire predictions that it would lead to gay sports clubs, etc.. Liberal democracy is always willing to grant rights from its false position of benevolence provided that the group demanding them lose their radicality (see cosby vs. dyson), or that the process by which such rights are granted dulls the edge of the demand. The desire itself becomes bourgeois (equal protection at work?) and the laws passed and rights granted usually involve some exception or division (the work protection, again, and its exclusion of gender identity).

a look at the machinery/process for the pleading of rights is informative: someone proposes (either by massive protest or legistlative inception) that a group be given a certain right. take hispanics and immigration: in response to the appeal for legitimacy, a slew of oppositional propaganda hits the media, entrenching hatred on one side. The disturbance that Jodi is referring to seems actually to increase the apparent need for that right. Then, at the end, if the right is granted, it comes with a warning: liberal democracy is the only thing that can protect you from all that hatred you just saw. support us, and you won't be lynched/mobbed/beaten. don't support us, and face that raging mass of hatred we are saving you from. The "right" is as much a part of the hegemony as the democrats to whom we appeal in america for rights--the disturbance itself becomes a reinforcement of the authority of the regime of rights.

concerning dale's post: i am asserting a further complication.
the demands for rights are not just on the terms of the hegemon, they are a demand that the supplicant be part of the hegemony. legal recognition confers power and to a lesser extent authority over the other oppressed. a black manager, protected by work laws, became empowered to fire a gay employee. with the new law, a gay manager would be protected from discrimination, therefore more secure at work, and can fire or refuse to hire a fem-to-male underling. This is the core engine of the rights apparatus--each right granted to a specific group creates an even less right-endowed subset actually more oppressed (by virtue of being further alone amongst the dispossessed).

oh, and dejan: two things--the "politics as the art of the possible" seems no different from the democratic caucuses in 2004, overrun by Kerry supporters justifying their nomination with the phrase "he's electable," and it also sounds quite similar to pelosi's arguments as to why the war in iraq cannot be ended yet. I, for one, find it instructive to witness "the art of the possible" in action, and therefore find even more reason to reject such notions altogether.
oh, and second: "most gays?" i'd sleep with zizek in a heartbeat.

rhyd

apology: the last paragraph is again in response to dale, though the last sentence is in response to dejan.

Dejan

oh, and second: "most gays?"

yes most gays would rather sleep with George Bush than Slavoj Zizek, even as gay left activists may think otherwise, but my point was more or less what you wrote in your comment - the state is abusing gay rights in much the same way zizek is abusing ''the Revolution''.

I did not understand the first part of your comment.

rhyd

uh, sorry Dejan. I posted a correction that got lost in the aether...the first part of the last paragraph was directed toward Dale, not you.

Matt

V. much in agreement with your comment in the boxes here, Jodi.

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