Immanence and Desire: Deleuze and the Political

Spinoza posed the fundamental problem of politics as a question of desire: Why do humans fight for their servitude as if it were their salvation? Why does desire desire its own repression? Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari take up this question in Anti-Oedipusand attempt to provide a rigorous response. Whereas Plato defined desire in terms if lack (if I desire something, it is because I lack it), Kant effected a revolution in thought by defining desire in terms of production (because I desire something, I produce it). It is this productive concept of desire that allows Deleuze and Guattari to effect a synthesis between Freud (libidinal economy) and Marx (political economy), though as I argue Deleuze and Guattari’s deeper points of reference are Spinoza and Nietzsche. We conclude by analyzing Deleuze and Guattari’s relation to the question of a democratic politics.

Read

Posted in Deleuze | Tagged

Deleuze And Masculinity

Masculinity studies have developed as an inherently interdisciplinary project since beginning in the 1970s. As part of broader growth, scholarship has devoted much time and energy to understanding and questioning the concept that boys are in crisis. Some scholars argue that masculinity has been synonymous with discourses of crisis since the 1700s, as a focus on unattainable ideals leads to anxiety about failure. These discourses persist but are certainly not the dominant way in which masculinity is learned in cultural pedagogies of gender. To a great extent, masculinity is largely taught and learned through embodied and symbolic sets of practices that take place in a range of places and are distributed across often quite complex networks. Online and offline, between generations, cultures and classes, the gender performance that is popularly recognized as ‘masculinity’ is fluid in the different ways it can embody or represent courage, leadership, protectiveness, strength, power, control and command.

Read

Posted in Deleuze | Tagged

Habermas and communicative power

Habermas’ concept of communicative power as an expression of citizens’ political autonomy is first outlined and its significance is traced as a corrective to the narrowly strategic and conflictual account of power dominant in the social sciences. Nonetheless, the problems with Habermas’ account in doing justice to the creativity of social power in shaping the substantive parameters of communicative power are diagnosed. These are seen to result from his over‐dependence on a formal and deontological theory of morality and a polycentric–synchronic theory of society. A path forward is suggested in which the concept of communicative power is set in relation to both social and functional forms of power within a combined philosophical and social‐theoretical framework emphasizing diachronic, agential, socio‐cognitive, and learning theory dimensions.

Read

Posted in Communicative Power, Habermas | Tagged ,

Communicative Power in Habermas’s Theory of Democracy

This article critically examines Jürgen Habermas’s theory of democracy as developed in Between Facts and Norms. In particular, it focuses on the concept of communicative power and argues that there is a crucial ambiguity in Habermas’s use of this concept. Since communicative power is the key normative resource that is supposed to counter the norm-free steering media of money and administrative power, its role within the theory must be made clear. The article begins by explaining the normative and social-theoretic foundations of the theory. Then it highlights the normative importance of the public sphere in Habermas’s two-track model of deliberative politics, before turning to the problems with the concept of communicative power. Two alternative readings of its role are provided in order to demonstrate how it needs to be further clarified.

Read

Posted in Communicative Power, Habermas | Tagged ,

The Transformation of Communicative Power Into Political Power

This article examines Jürgen Habermas’ concept of communicative power and describes how it transforms into political power in actual decision-making. For this purpose, the article develops the use of Habermas’ typology of validity claims in communicative action as a framework for analysis. This means analyzing how public performances invoking these validity claims affect actors’ authority, which is then capitalized in policymaking. The article thus integrates Habermas’ procedural view on deliberative politics with the more culturally oriented view on political performances. It also contributes to the discussion about the “mediatization of politics” by introducing a communicative perspective to complement the more common institutional and systems perspectives. This theoretical and analytical approach is illustrated by examples drawn from the evidence in 16 semi-structured interviews conducted with participants in the policy networks involved in the 2015 Finnish labor market negotiations.

Read

Posted in Communicative Power, Habermas | Tagged ,

Deliberative democracy – Review essay

In Public Deliberation, James Bohman addresses a problem that has long shadowed normative democratic theory. The problem is that while normative theory formulates ideals of rational and just political order, it is often unclear how such ideals are to be achieved, or even whether they can be achieved, given the constraints of presently existing social realities. In other words, they typically exist a significant gap between the ideals of the theory and their realization in light of actual social conditions. In this book, Bohman seeks to combine the critical social theory of Jürgen Habermas with the pragmatism of John Dewey to construct a deliberative theory of democracy that is feasible within, and applicable to, modern societies.

Read

Posted in Deliberative democracy | Tagged

Between deliberative and participatory democracy: A contribution on Habermas

Deliberative democracy has assumed a central role in the debate about deepening democratic practices in complex contemporary societies. By acknowledging the citizens as the main actors in the political process, political deliberation entails a strong ideal of participation that has not, however, been properly clarified. The main purpose of this article is to discuss, through Jürgen Habermas’ analysis of modernity, reason and democracy, whether and to what extent deliberative democracy and participatory democracy are compatible and how they can, either separately or together, enhance democratic practices. Further exploration of this relationship will permit a better understanding of the possibilities and limits of institutionalizing both discourses, as well as of developing democracy in a more substantive dimension.

Read

Posted in Habermas | Tagged

Adorno, Foucault and critique

Adorno and Foucault are among the 20th century’s most renowned social critics but little work has been done to compare their ideas about the activity of critique. ‘Adorno, Foucault and Critique’ attempts to fill this lacuna. It takes as its starting point the Kantian legacy that informs Adorno’s and Foucault’s notions of critique, or their ‘ontologies of the present’, as Foucault calls them. Exploring the ontological foundations of critique, the article then addresses the principal objects of critique: domination and fascism. It ends with a comparative account of the central aims of Adorno’s and Foucault’s critiques of western societies.

Read

Posted in Adorno, Foucault | Tagged ,

Deliberative democracy, the public sphere and the internet

The internet could be an efficient political instrument if it were seen as part of a democracy where free and open discourse within a vital public sphere plays a decisive role. The model of deliberative democracy, as developed by Jürgen Habermas and Seyla Benhabib, serves this concept of democracy best. The paper explores first the model of deliberative democracy as a ‘two-track model’ in which representative democracy is backed by the public sphere and developing civil society. Secondly, it outlines the normative concept of the public sphere and its basic ideas, namely the uncoerced communication of equal participants with equal access and equal rights to intervene or propose themes. The third part for discussion shows how the internet could fit into this concept of the public sphere and influence the quality of political debates, and emphasizes the important role it can play in the political process.

Read

Posted in Deliberative democracy, Habermas, internet | Tagged , ,

Moral Relativism

Moral relativism is an important topic in metaethics. It is also widely discussed outside philosophy (for example, by political and religious leaders), and it is controversial among philosophers and nonphilosophers alike. This is perhaps not surprising in view of recent evidence that people’s intuitions about moral relativism vary widely. Though many philosophers are quite critical of moral relativism, there are several contemporary philosophers who defend forms of it. These include such prominent figures as Gilbert Harman, Jesse J. Prinz, J. David Velleman, and David B. Wong. The term ‘moral relativism’ is understood in a variety of ways. Most often it is associated with an empirical thesis that there are deep and widespread moral disagreements and a metaethical thesis that the truth or justification of moral judgments is not absolute, but relative to the moral standard of some person or group of persons. Sometimes ‘moral relativism’ is connected with a normative position about how we ought to think about or act towards those with whom we morally disagree, most commonly that we should tolerate them.

Read

Posted in Moral Relativism | Tagged