Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Don't See Any Method... At All

Our sister blog Dolce&Gomorrah at last abandons mere academicism for engaged academicism with an astute post on Fukuyama and the world revolts.
For whom, we might ask, does History’s Bell Toll? Both Fukuyama and Qaddafi would probably say that it tolls “for the People”. For both, it would be a disingenuous move–to Qaddafi, “the People” means Qaddafi; while for Fukuyama It means a particular set of deeply entrenched, hierarchical institutional relations grounded in an age-old Western myth of liberal consent. Both would leverage the sheer abstraction of Hegel’s thought–the obtuse symbolism of his capitalized nouns–to further an intrinsically anti-democratic, reactionary end; despite the fact that both would be arguing for opposing outcomes.
In a rare display optimism, D&G suggests a third reading:
the ideological vacuum that emerges in the wake of revolution–the sweeping aside of one obtuse worldview in favor of a seething plurality of competing destinies–is the very definition of Hegelian Freedom.
A surprisingly Badiouian (that con-man! but who can resist so many vowels strung together?) turn: freedom as void, and void as multiplicity.

You're Lying has also taken notes of the logical contortionism of Qaddafi's state rhetoric. Qaddafi exemplifies a theme we've blogged on before--the capacity of any ideology which envisions society as an organic, unified, natural whole to legitimate unlimited violence. We are reminded that after coming to power by coup d'etat, then-Capt. Qaddafi promoted himself to the rank of colonel and has since acted only as a de facto head of state. Why? Because, as Qaddafi is eager to remind, "Libya is ruled by the people. (Do not fret for the humble enlisted man: Qaddafi has taken on himself the Imam of All Muslims and, in 2008, actually held a ceremony to crown himself King of Kings of Africa). Qaddafi stated in his address to the nation today that since he lacks an official title as head of state, he has no position from which to resign, and therefore cannot but continue on as "brotherly leader" of the Revolution. Qaddafi, who has taken us from tragedy to farce and back again a million times, out did himself with his latest dramatization of his fraternal benevolence: during his twenty second televised statement last night, he claimed to have just come from Green Square where he was, a la Oliver Stone's Nixon, milling around with the youthful dissenters. He wishes he could have stayed but for the rain.

Since Qaddafi's Libya is a society of pure and inviolable brotherhood, any who stands against Qaddafi, the personification of that brotherhood, is, by tautology, a traitor and must be eliminated lest they contaminate the body politic. Qaddafi's "de facto" leadership puts us in mind of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (the leadership of the Khmer Rouge), the existence of which was not officially acknowledged by the Cambodian government for the first two years of its reign. Qaddafi offers the same rationalization for the brutality he has unleashed as the Soviet leadership's gave for crushing worker's strikes in East Berlin in 1953--since the Soviet Union was a worker's state, strikes were unnecessary, so any strikes that did take place were by definition counterrevolutionary. Don't under-estimate the power of rhetoric, no matter how denuded it appears to be, to serve as an alibi for atrocity. Cynics do not believe their own rhetoric, but they desperately need to believe that they do, that some one does, anyone, if only the vanity mirror they call History.

1 comment:

  1. That old car, that umbrella, and that fish face: it's a tati film!