Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why We Should Love Israel?

There must be something about Israel that might motivate us, all the patriots of the world like me, to bestow our cordial love upon it. So, why we should love Israel?

Attentive followers of the debates in Davos certainly watched the footage of the incident where our brave leader Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdogan heroically gives a lesson of humanity to Shimon Peres with his typical childish noisiness notable for rattling off the empty rhetoric of ignorance. In the most feverish moment of the squabble Mr. Erdogan uttered maybe the most ridiculous words that have ever been exchanged between two imperialist leaders: "You are killing people." I wonder what he would say if Mr. Peres suddenly asked this awkward question: Ok, Mr. President, we are killing people but where were you when the Turkish F16s were bombing the villages in the Northern Iraq?

It seems that we are way too sensitive in respect to the traumatic experience that our unconscious patriotic (I’m deliberately employing this term as it is now the name that masks racism in particular segments of the Turkish left) desire is now being materialized by the Israeli Zionism.

Without displaying any sign of leniency on his initial determination to put the Israeli Zionists in their place, Mr. Erdogan carried on his unyielding support to Palestinians in an interview with the Washington Post. When he was asked about his close relationship with Hamas, rightfully he stated:

"Hamas entered the elections as a political party. If the whole world had given them the chance of becoming a political player, maybe they would not be in a situation like this after the elections that they won."

Since we don’t have the luxury of playing the idiot like the Post interviewer let's ask the proper question which is absent in the interview:

Then tell me Mr. President, if so, why the Turkish state always seeks new excuses to shut down every political party founded by the Kurdish people?

The best thing about Israel is with its demonstration of the symptoms of nation-states in the most vulgar way, it enables us to cover up our more refined forms of ethnic discrimination. Since now racism means besieging an ethnic group to hunger and death and bombing them with the most sophisticated weapons, we can contently keep up or our own moderate practice of institutional ethnic discrimination without being caught by the trap of vulgar anti-democratic racism. Besides, there is always a way to dodge the accusations of the emergent racist sentiments among our people by declaring that these are individual attempts. In this sense, we should be grateful to Israel for giving us an ethical license to liberally and democratically hate Jews, Kurds, Armenians, Greeks, etc, etc.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Communism Kills Eternal Truths

In a recent post on her blog, I Cite, Jodi Dean brings forward her doubt about the potential of the death drive to make way for radical politics. She states:

"...I would think that there is no political valence to drive; it is as likely to have politically conservative effects as it is radical ones. In fact, to me it seems more likely to have politically conservative effects, particularly under conditions of communicative capitalism."

After reading her post I leafed through Lacan’s 'The Ethics of Psychoanalysis' for if I could find something that supports her pessimism (which I also share). It is remarkable that at the beginning of the chapter called 'The Death Drive' Lacan raises the question what would Marx think about progressivism, the ideology which is widespread in modern bourgeoisie.

As I understand or misunderstand, for Lacan, there are two aspects of the death drive and they are connected with the historicity of the subject. The first one is its destructive feature, tendency to return to a state of universal equilibrium. The other is the "will to create from zero, a will to begin again." The former is subjected to our experience, registered to the path that we fallowed to arrive to the existing state of affairs. Lacan states in Seminar 17 that, "life only ever returns there via paths that are always the same, ones it has previously traced." I think this is where the deception of death drive resides. I once run across an anarcho-capitalist cab driver, while we were passing in front of the president's residence he suddenly told me that we must privatize everything even including the state. It is no surprise that the radical political destination of death drive operating in the subject who is cursed by the free-market ideology is anarcho-capitalism. In this vein, the death drive generally operates as the radical confirmation of the existing order.

The other dimension, the will to create from ex nihilo becomes accessible only through the isolation of the historical sequence, by which our experiences and our memories are recognized as they are conditioned by the symbolic order. Lacan here astonishingly speaks in favor of the creationist theory insofar as it ascribes the origin of the symbolic order to an external entity. With this externalization the death drive becomes capable of overcoming the second barrier and reaching beyond what Lacan called “the cycle of generation-corruption”. Thus, Marx’s defiant declaration in the Manifesto, "There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc., that are common to all states of society. But communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience," designates the TRUE aim of radical politics, not directed to backwards on the determined route by annihilating and reinstalling contingent institutions of the capitalist society but radically focused to eradicate supposedly eternal truths that determine the contingent elements of our history.

Lacan's answer to the question what would Marx think about progressivism is, "they are a good, healthy standard of a certain kind of intellectual honesty." But radical politics in no way coincides with progressivism, Marx disavows the Hegelian conception of the State as the actualization of freedom based on the power of reason and regards it as an instrument of class struggle determined by the capitalist production, and only by this process of isolation he enables himself to conceive a new beginning beyond the second destruction, beyond the negation of the private property:

"Where, then, is the positive possibility of a German emancipation? Answer: In the formation of a class with radical chains, a class of civil society which is not a class of civil society, an estate which is the dissolution of all estates, a sphere which has a universal character by its universal suffering and claims no particular right because no particular wrong but wrong generally is perpetrated against it; which can no longer invoke a historical but only a human title; which does not stand in any one-sided antithesis to the consequences but in an all-round antithesis to the premises of the German state; a sphere, finally, which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all other spheres of society and thereby emancipating all other spheres of society, which, in a word, is the complete loss of man and hence can win itself only through the complete rewinning of man. This dissolution of society as a particular estate is the proletariat."

If there is a slightest capacity of the death-drive to open up a field for radical emancipatory politics, I think, it is the will to begin again by setting off from the assertion that our subjective history is a byproduct of the symbolic order.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wink of an Eye

Perhaps the most recurring arrangement in the TV series “Malcolm in the Middle” was while Louis delivers one of her standard tirades to discipline the boys Hal usually repeats her but nevertheless undermines the authoritarian massage whether intentionally with a mischievous wink or unintentionally due to his naturally eccentric attitudes. The presence of Hal adds the dimension of real to the scene and provides access to the jouissance which is thwarted by the pleasure principle, i.e. the principle of sticking to the level of minimum enjoyment to prevent the slightest unpleasant possibility.

The appearance of George Bush, a white American heir of an upper-class family from Texas who carries on his father’s occupation, a devoted conservative cowboy who rides on religious moralism and unbridled American patriotism, as the president of the U.S fits in symbolic order such perfectly that although his message indicates the imperative to enjoy everything that is American, a particular way of life, freedom, democracy, etc. etc. yet only functions as a barrier that frustrates any seduction of access to the enjoyment from the content of the message. What is missing is the real element, the wink of an eye or something peculiar that resists to the hypothetical regularity of the symbolic.

On the other hand, the appearance of Barack Hussein Obama from top to toe is almost impossible to fit in the standard image of the leader of a country by anyone who has studied a little bit on American history. Everything about Obama is real that intrudes the symbolic reality. A black man from a Muslim background now delivers a speech by ranting and raving nearly the same the ideological message of his predecessor but there is a big difference: The whole scene is a giant wink of an eye that opens up the access to the full enjoyment of ruling ideology of the ruling class. This is why while words coming from Bush’s mouth are perceived as a terrible pain in the ass, they are now accepted as the sweet melodies complementing the long awaited mass political jamboree.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crazy Little Thing Called Change

The new U.S. president Barack Obama finally gave the inauguration speech awaited in anticipation by billions of people all along the world. I have to admit that I’m fully satisfied with his speech, I think he perfectly demonstrated that why people have voted for him and also why he is the embodiment of the ruling class consensus on the urgent need for reconstruction of the collective consciousness.

My early assessment of Obama was he is just another American politician who has his share of inevitable subjective commitment to the capitalist parliamentary democracy and thus his rhetoric about change and the constituents’ passionate yearning for a sort of unidentified justice which is also mobilized around this little object “change” is merely the setting that frames the existing political reality. This little object “change” frames the reality merely by its extraction from the setting and in this vein forming a window by its absence on the middle. This was my alleged Lacanian interpretation: The object called change frames the political reality only with its absence, when really there is no change. Here, Badiouean interpretation has already been given: You cannot participate in a system without a subjective commitment to it. “We must keep our distance from this subjective figure of politics”.

But after his nominations and this inaugural jamboree and the speech that he gave, now, I’m convinced that he is really after some substantial chance. In the Marxist perspective, the change is obvious: In the minds of the crises, the common affairs of bourgeoisie are now much more complicated that the executives of the state must find a way to restore the previous contradictions among the ruling class and remind them their common interests. I think Mr. Obama is more than capable to accomplish this restorative function.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Don't Give Up Your Anxiety

A recent article in Wall Street Journal reports that some Israeli Jews are now dispelling the anxiety due to experiencing years of constant violence with the most effortless way. This is exactly what Badiou calls subjective corruption. Like a crowd cheering to an ordinary NHL brawl, it seems that they have finally found the shortest but certainly the scandalous way to break away from anxiety by gazing at the effects of the “operation” from the top of the hills near the Gaza border:

“On another hilltop overlooking Gaza, Sandra Koubi, a 43-year-old philosophy student, says seeing the violence up close "is a kind of catharsis for me, to get rid of all the anxiety we have inside us after years of rocket fire" from Hamas.”

This disavowal of traumatic perception of reality might be formulated as: I normally don’t take obscene pleasure in watching other people suffering but violent deeds of the other are so suffocating that they left me no escape other than succumbing to this innocent pleasure.

I was once on the top of the imaginary hill near the ethnical borders in Turkey. If I remember correctly, I was eight or nine when PKK initiated guerrilla warfare against the Turkish Army. From childhood to adolescence my greatest fear was Kurdish terrorism, probably incited by the propagandist images of the bodies of innocent babies supposedly killed in terrorist attacks. I remember how I got relief by reading the count of terrorists killed each day in newspapers. But later in the university years I realized that the authentic menace comes from those in a way or other connected with the state or with the state ideology. I hope I’ve realized that my anxiety is a way too much valuable to exchange with the deceptive purely ideological desire of the other.

The problem with mirror in front of which the nations construct the image for self-recognition by telling stories and creating myths about themselves is not that it simply transforms the narratives to an ideological formula and thus reflects the reality in a distorted form. But it precisely replicates the particularity of the reality to distort the very perception of reality. Ideology here, as we are witnessing in operation, is offering the narrative of the clear-cut reality of the Israeli Jews, they are living in the state unending state of emergency by the treat of Kassam rockets, they are afraid of sending their children to schools, they are doomed to the inexpressible level of anxiety and so on… Their story is real. I mean, it is not deceptive. As a man who also suffers from anxiety disorder I think they should be really anxious about the every day violence that encircles them. But then comes the typical ideological question which demands sympathy to horrible crimes initiated and operated by the ruling classes of those nations: Imagine how do you feel if you were an Israeli Jew living in the same conditions? In this sense, however touching it may sounds; one should show zero sympathy to narratives. And if we are discontented with our anxiety, we should find a more radical way to cure it rather than exchanging our anxiety with the Zionist desire or hostile Turkish nationalism by passively watching the relaxing bomb clouds, etc. Here I propose them or myself too active solidarity with the reality unreflected by ideological mirror.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009