Universal love essay

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(Therein resides the hypocrisy of the standard Stalinist mocking of the "merely formal" bourgeois freedom: if it is merely formal and doesn't disturb the true relations of power, why, then, doesn't the Stalinist regime allow it? Why is it so afraid of it?). The key moment of any theoretical (and ethical, and political, and - as Badiou demonstrated - even aesthetic) struggle is the rise of universality out of the particular life-world. The commonplace according to which we are all irreducibly grounded in a particular (contingent) life-world, so that all universality is irreducibly colored by (embedded in) a particular life-world, should be turned around: the authentic moment of discovery, the breakthrough, occurs when a properly universal dimension. This universality-for-itself is not simply external to (or above) the particular context: it is inscribed into it, it perturbs and affects it from within, so that the identity of the particular is split into its particular and its universal aspect. Did already marx not point out how the true problem with Homer is not to explain the roots of his epics in the early Greek society, but to account for the fact that, although clearly rooted in their historical context, they were able to transcend. Perhaps, the most elementary hermeneutic test of the greatness of a work of art is its ability to survive being torn out of its original context: in the case of a truly great work of art, each epoch reinvents/rediscovers its own figure of this work. Take wagner's Parsifal: a lot of historicist work was done recently trying to bring out the contextual "true meaning" of the wagnerian figures and topics: the pale hagen is really a masturbating Jew; Amfortas' wound is really syphillis.

Say, the modern notion of "profession" implies that i experience myself as an individual who is not directly "born into" his social stranded role - what I will become depends on the interplay between the contingent social circumstances and my free choice; in this sense, today's. The crucial point here is, again, that, in certain specific social condition (of commodity exchange and global market economy "abstraction" becomes a direct feature of the actual social life, the way concrete individuals behave and relate to their fate and to their social surroundings. Marx shares here hegel's insight into how Universality becomes "for itself" only insofar as individuals no longer fully identify the kernel of their being with their particular social situation, only insofar as they experience themselves as forever "out of joint" with regard to this situation. The mode of appearance of an abstract Universality, its entering into actual existence, is thus an extremely violent move of disrupting the preceding texture of social life. It is not enough to make the old Marxist point about the gap between the ideological appearance of the universal legal form and the particular interests that effectively sustain it; at this level, the counter-argument (made, among others, by Claude lefort 9 and Jacques Rancière). Ranciere's basic emphasis is on the radical ambiguity of the marxist notion of the "gap" between formal democracy (the rights of man, political freedom, etc.) and the economic reality of exploitation and domination. One can read this gap between the "appearance" of equality-freedom and the social reality of economic, cultural, etc. Differences either in the standard "symptomatic" way (the form of universal rights, equality, freedom and democracy is just a necessary, but illusory form of expression of its concrete social content, the universe of exploitation and class domination or in the much more subversive sense. Why shouldn't conditions at the working place also be of public political concern? Etc.) One is tempted to use here the old levi-straussian term of "symbolic efficiency the appearance of egaliberte is a symbolic fiction which, as such, possesses actual efficiency of its own - one should resist the properly cynical temptation of reducing it to a mere.

universal love essay

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Her critique of liberalism remains at the standard Marxist level of denouncing the false universality, of showing how a position that presents itself as neutral-universal effectively privileges a certain (heterosexual, male, christian.) culture. More precisely, she remains within the standard "postmodern "anti-essentialist" position, a kind of political version of foucault's notion of sex as generated by the multitude of the practices of sexuality: "man the bearer of Human Rights, is generated by a set of political practices which. is, however, this enough? The marxist symptomal reading can convincingly demonstrate the particular content that gives the specific bourgeois ideological spin to hippie the notion of human rights: "universal human rights are effectively the rights of the white male private owners to exchange freely on the market, exploit workers and. In what conditions do individuals experience themselves as subjects of universal human rights? Therein resides the point of Marx's analysis of "commodity fetishism in a society in which commodity exchange predominates, individuals themselves, in their daily lives, relate to themselves, as well as to the objects they encounter, as to contingent embodiments of abstract-universal notions. What i am, my concrete social or cultural background, is experienced as contingent, since what ultimately defines me is the "abstract" universal capacity to think and/or to work. Or, any object that can satisfy my desire is experienced as contingent, since my desire is conceived as an "abstract" formal capacity, indifferent towards the multitude of particular objects that may - but never fully do - satisfy.

universal love essay

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and Brown is right in depicting how our freedom of choice often functions as a mere formal gesture of consenting to one's oppression and exploitation. However, the lesson of Hegel is here that paper form matters, that form has an autonomy and efficiency of its own. So when we compare a third World woman forced to undergo cliterodectomy or promised to marriage when a small child, with the first World woman "free to choose" painful cosmetic surgery, the form of freedom matters - it opens up a space for critical reflection.,br. the all too slick admission of their superiority. Is not one of the topoi of Western liberalism the elevation of the Other as leading a life more harmonious, organic, less competitive, aiming at cooperation, not domination, etc? Linked to this is another operation: blindness for oppression on behalf of the "respect" for other's culture. Even freedom of choice is here often evoked in a perverted way: those people have chosen their way of life, inclusive of burning the widows, and, deplorable and repulsive as it appears to us, we should respect this choice. This brings us to Brown's next limitation.

This would be a liberalism potentially more modest, more restrained in its imperial and colonial impulses, but also one more capable of the multicultural justice to which it aspires. 8, however, one can argue that Brown fails to apply the self-reflexive move that she demands of liberal multiculturalism on her own edifice: while she convincingly demonstrates how the very procedure by means of which the liberal multi-culturalist discourse presents itself as universal, neutral with. The move from sex as essentialist identity to sex as a contingent discursive construct is the move from traditionalism to modernity. Brown repeatedly criticizes the "liberal conceit" that, while traditional individuals are determined by their cultures, modern liberal subjects are above it, able to step in and out of different particular cultures - which means exactly that they are no longer "essentialists". Or, to make the same point in a more direct way: the self-reflexive sensitivity to one's own limitation can only emerge against the background of the notions of autonomy and rationality promoted by liberalism. That is to say, brown posits herself within the tradition of critique of ideology, of mere "formal" freedom, which grew out of the very same liberal matrix she is criticizing. One can, of course, argue that, in a way, the western situation is even worse, because, in it, oppression itself is obliterated, masked as a free choice what do you complain? You chose to.

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universal love essay

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First, she ignores the tremendous liberating aspect of experiencing one's own cultural background as contingent. There is an authentic core of political liberalism: let us not forget that liberalism emerged in Europe after the catastrophy of 30-years war between Catholics and Protestants; it was an answer to the pressing question: how could people who differ in their fundamental religious allegiances. It demands from citizens more than a condescending tolerance of diverging religions, more than tolerance as a temporary compromise: it demands that we respect other religions not in spite of our innermost religious convictions but on account of them - respect for others. This attitude is best expressed by Abu hanifa, the great 8th century muslim intellectual: "Difference of opinion in the community is a token of divine mercy.". Moreover, it demands that this list of different positions includes atheists.

It is only within this ideological space that one can experience one's identity as something contingent and discursively "constructed" - to cut a long story short, philosophically, there is no judith Butler (her theory of gender identity as performatively enacted, etc.) without the cartesian subject. Second, this is why also her analysis, her image of Western liberalism, is fatefully distorted: it is suspicious thesis how obsessively, desperately almost, she tries to characterize liberal multiculturalist tolerance as "essentialist as relying on "essentialist" notion that our socio-symbolic identity is determined by our stable. But whatever one can accuse liberal multiculturalism of, one should at least admit that it is profoundly anti-"essentialist it is its towards barbarian Other which is perceived as "essentialist" and thereby "false. E., fundamentalism "naturalizes" or "essentializes" historically conditioned contingent traits. one can thus claim that Brown remains within the horizon of tolerant liberalism, raising it to a self-reflexive level: what she wants is a liberalism (multiculturalism) which would expose to critique also its own norms and procedures, becoming aware of its own "intolerant" Eurocentric. / These deconstructive moves bear the possibility of conceiving and nourishing a liberalism more self-conscious of and receptive to its own always already present hybridity, its potentially rich failure to hive off organicism from individuality and culture from political principles, law, or policy.

5, the main feature of cogito is its insubstantial character: "It cannot be spoken of positively; no sooner than it is, its function is lost." 6, cogito is not a substantial entity, but a pure structural function, an empty place - as such, it can. The link between the emergency of cogito and the disintegration and loss of substantial communal identities is thus inherent, and this holds even more for Spinoza than for Descartes: although Spinoza criticized the cartesian cogito, he criticized it as a positive ontological entity - but. Spinoza effectively is a "philosopher as such with his subjective stance of a double outcast (excommunicated from the very community of the outcasts of Western civilization which is why one should use him as a paradigm enabling us to discover the traces of a similar. For a philosopher, ethnic roots, national identity, etc., are simply not a category of truth, or, to put it in precise kantian terms, when we reflect upon out ethnic roots, we engage in a private use of reason, constrained by contingent dogmatic presuppositions,. E., we act as "immature" individuals, not as free human beings who dwell in the dimension of the universality of reason. The opposition between Kant and Rorty with regard to this distinction of public and private is rarely noted, but nonetheless crucial: they both sharply distinguish between the two domains, but in the opposite sense.

For Rorty, the great contemporary liberal if there ever was one, private is the space of our idiosyncrasies where creativity and wild imagination rule, and moral considerations are (almost) suspended, while public is the space of social interaction where we should obey the rules. For Kant, however, the public space of the "world-civil-society" designates the paradox of the universal singularity, of a singular subject who, in a kind of short-circuit, by-passing the mediation of the particular, directly participates in the Universal. This is what Kant, in the famous passage of his "What is Enlightenment? means by "public" as opposed to "private "private" is not individual as opposed to one's communal ties, but the very communal-institutional order of one's particular identification, while "public" is the trans-national universality of the exercise of one's reason. The paradox of the underlying formula "Think freely, but obey!" (which, of course, poses a series of problems of its own, since it also relies on the distinction between the "performative" level of social authority, and the level of free thinking whose performativity is suspended). It is Kant who should be read here as the critic of Rorty: in his vision of the public space of the unconstrained free exercise of reason, he asserts the dimension of emancipatory universality outside the confines of one's social identity, of one's position within. The Effective universality, it is here that we encounter Brown's fateful limitation.

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There are limits to tolerance, and to be tolerant towards intolerance means simply to support tolerate intolerance. The liberal idea of resume a "free choice" - if the subject wants it, s/he can opt for the parochial way of the tradition into which s/he was born, but s/he has to be presented with alternatives and then make a free choice. In order for them to have an effectively free choice, they would have to be properly informed on all the options, educated in them - however, the only way to do this would be to extract them from their embeddedness in the Amish community,. E., to effectively render them "English." This also clearly demonstrates the limitations of the predominant liberal attitude towards the muslim women wearing a veil: they can do it if it is their free choice and not an option imposed on them by their husbands. However, the moment women wear a choice as the result of their free individual choice (say, in order to realize their own spirituality the meaning of wearing a veil changes completely: it is no longer a sign of their belonging to the muslim community, but. The lesson of all this is that a choice is always a meta-choice, a choice of the modality of the choice itself: it is only the woman who does not choose to wear a veil that effectively chooses a choice. This is why, in our secular societies of choice, people who maintain a substantial religious belonging are in a subordinate position: even if they are allowed to maintain their belief, this belief is "tolerated" as their idiosyncratic personal choice/opinion; the moment they present it publicly. What this means is that the "subject of free choice" (in the western "tolerant" multicultural sense) can only emerge as the result of an extremely violent process of being torn out of one's particular life-world, of being cut off from one's roots. The philosophical underpinning of this ideology of the universal liberal subject, and, for this reason, the main philosophical target of Brown's critique of liberalism is the cartesian subject, especially in its Kantian version: the subject which is conceived as capable of stepping outside its particular.

universal love essay

It shows intolerance when individuals of other cultures are not given freedom of choice (cliterodectomy, child brideship, infanticide, polygamy, family rape. however, it ignores the tremendous logo pressure which, for example, compels women in our liberal society to undergo plastic surgery, cosmetic implants, botox injections, etc., in order to remain competitive on the sex market. Finally, there are all the self-referring paradoxes centered on the impasse of tolerating intolerance. Liberalist multiculturalism preaches tolerance between cultures, while making it clear that true tolerance is fully possible only in the individualist Western culture, and thus legitimizes even military interventions as an extreme mode of fighting the other's intolerance - some us feminists supported the us occupation. However, Brown tries to get too much mileage from this self-referential paradox which a radical liberal would simply assume without any inconsistency: if I believe in individual choice and tolerance of different cultures, of course this obliges me to be "intolerant" towards cultures which prevent. Brown makes it easy here with focusing on today's anti-Islamism - but what about, say, the struggle against nazism? Is it not also a "paradox" that the allied block fought a brutal war against Fascism on behalf of tolerance and peace?

universality, insofar as s/he extricates. Since, however, every individual has to be somehow "particularized it has to dwell in a particular life-world, the only way to resolve this deadlock is to split the individual into universal and particular, public and private (where "private" covers both the "safe haven" of family. In liberalism, culture survives, but as privatized: as way of life, a set of beliefs and practices, not the public network of norms and rules. Culture is thus literally transubstantiated: the same sets of beliefs and practices change from the binding power of a collective into an expression of personal and private idiosyncrasies. Insofar as culture itself is the source of barbarism and intolerance, the inevitable conclusion is that the only way to overcome intolerance and violence is to extricate the core of subject's being, its universal essence, from culture: in its core, the subject has. (This, incidentally, gives a new twist to joseph goebbels's infamous formula "when I hear the word culture, i reach for my gun" - but not when I hear the word civilization.) Wendy Brown problematizes this liberal notion on a multitude of levels: First,. Since, in our societies, a sexualized division of labor still predominates which confers a male twist on basic liberal categories (autonomy, public activity, competition and relegates women to the private sphere of family solidarity, etc., liberalism itself, in its opposition of private and public, harbors. Furthermore, it is only the modern Western capitalist culture for which autonomy, individual freedom, etc., stand higher than collective solidarity, connection, responsibility for dependent others, the duty to respect the customs of one's community - again, liberalism itself privileges a certain culture, the modern Western. Brown's second line of attack concerns the freedom of choice - here, also, liberalism shows a strong bias.

The cultivation of tolerance as a political end implicitly constitutes a rejection of politics as a domain trunk in which conflict can be productively articulated and addressed, a domain in which citizens can be transformed by their participation. 1, perhaps, nothing expresses better the inconsistency of the post-political liberal project than its implicit paradoxical identification of culture and nature, the two traditional opposites: culture itself is naturalized, posited as something given. (The idea of culture as "second nature" is, of course, an old one.) It was, of course, samuel Huntington who proposed the most successful formula of this "culturalization of politics" by locating the main source of today's conflicts into the "clash of civilizations what one. 2, huntington's dark vision of the "clash of civilizations" may appear to be the very opposite of Francis fukuyama's bright prospect of the End of History in the guise of a world-wide liberal democracy: what can be more different from fukuyama's pseudo-hegelian idea of the. The "clash of civilizations" is politics at the "end of history.". Contemporary liberalism forms a complex network of ideologies, institutional and non-institutional practices; however, underlying this multiplicity is a basic opposition on which the entire liberal vision relies, the opposition between those who are ruled by culture, totally determined by the life-world into which they were. This brings us to the next paradox: the ultimate source of barbarism is culture itself, one's direct identification with a particular culture which renders one intolerant towards other cultures.

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By clicking Agree, you consent to Slates. Terms of Service and, privacy policy and the use of technologies such as cookies by Slate and our partners to deliver relevant advertising on our site, in emails and across the Internet, to personalize content and perform site analytics. Privacy policy for more information about our use of data, your rights, and how to withdraw consent. The culturalization of Politics, why are today so many problems perceived as problems of intolerance, not as problems of inequality, exploitation, injustice? Why is the proposed remedy tolerance, not emancipation, political the struggle, even armed struggle? The immediate answer is the liberal multiculturalist's basic ideological operation: the "culturalization of politics" - political differences, differences conditioned by political inequality, economic exploitation, etc., are naturalized/neutralized into "cultural" differences, different "ways of life which are something given, something that cannot be overcome, but merely. The cause of this culturalization is the retreat, failure, of direct political solutions (Welfare State, socialist projects, etc.). Tolerance is their post-political ersatz: The retreat from more substantive visions of justice heralded by the promulgation of tolerance today is part of a more general depoliticization of citizenship and power and retreat from political life itself.

universal love essay
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