Tuesday, January 12, 2010

© Eso Antons Benjamins, a.k.a. Jaņdžs

72 Climbing Mt. Citheron (V)

Strange as it may seem, the myth of Kirtimukha repeats itself in modern politics. It appears, for example, in the work of the German scholar of jurisprudence and political philosopher Carl Schmitt , for whose importance I will quote Chantal Mouffe, his prominent critic, but also one who has developed his ideas further, but other direction.

Writes Mouffe: “[For] Carl Schmitt… the defining feature of politics is struggle and that ‘there always are concrete human groupings which fight other concrete human groupings in the name of justice, humanity, order, or peace.’”* Mouffe concurs with Schmitt that it is essential in political struggle (as opposed to a bureaucratic foreclosure of dissent) to have an “enemy”. The differences in the two thinkers’ ideas lie in that Carl Schmitt does not believe that liberal democracy is able to cope with the potential of violence inherent in the system and, therefore, under conditions of exception, needs a leader to resolve the matter, while Mouffe tilts toward a resolution of conflicts by means of a resolve to use hands (i.e., words), not weapons. The last sentence in Mouffe’s book, “The Return of the Political” reads: “Instead of shying away from the component of violence and hostility inherent in social relations, the task is to think how to create the conditions under which those aggressive forces can be defused and diverted and a pluralistic democratic order made possible.” One of these conditions as I understand it is hegemony contingent on the ability of interest groups or equivalences to come together against a common adversary in a time of crisis. This hegemony is populist in nature.

However, thought and conclusions alone, without a substantial transference of authority to implement thought and its conclusions (words alone will not do the job), are for naught. As Mouffe herself says: “The absence of power embodied in the person of the prince and tied to a transcendental authority preempts the existence of a final guarantee or source of legitimation; society can no longer be defined as a substance having an organic identity. What remains is a society without clearly defined outlines, a single or universal point of view. It is in this way that democracy is characterized by the ‘dissolution of the markers of certainty.**’” This is a radical idea indeed, if one considers that with the dissolution of the markers of certainty there will also dissolve all charisma, attraction. For me the rub comes when I have to imagine the latter, because I cannot get that abstracted.

How will the “dissolution of the markers of certainty” be bridged? I argue that the “substance [lacking] an organic entity” (which I presume makes it behave as any bureaucratic instrument) remains, a serpent in the grass, a proto-social being (as in a ‘naked human being’ in the Greek concept of Zoē). A “larger than life” society on the other hand is a development that has gone past this proto stage and is already bound by the charismatic force of death, whether self-sacrificial or violent. This is the stage when Kirtimukha bites its tail and propels itself as a wheel. Its substance is diminishing (no institution is immortal) by being turned into energy. It has bit its tail and moves no longer with a winding slither, but with a roll. We have become a substance (inorganic on a contingency basis) which moves inexorably toward its denouement—sooner than later—if we do not stop before the window of our faces.

What the neo-liberal Latvian government is engaged in at this time is to twist Latvian society under the aegis of the neo-liberal West in a way that it becomes like a twisted bicycle wheel. Given enough of a push, such a wheel will move forward for a few turns, but then tip over. It urgently needs a tuning. The present (2010) Latvian government, a collective of right-wing partidocracies in its make-up (i.e., sponsored by its own team of oligarchs and with only a few members from the public), may be a better transport vehicle for the baggage in its baggage container than having no wheels at all, but having already suspended disbelief several times in order to believe that a partidocracy led to a better future, Latvians may no longer vote to save the organic leeches in their swimming pool.

One proof of failure of the Latvian government may be deduced from its refusal to speak about the future. This is evident in its unceasing lambasting (and implicit repression) of “populism”, the interests of which demand the neo-liberal elite to tell the people about the future the state envisions. Since the government has consistently failed to do so, it is apparent that the future is already here. It consists of leeching the people as if they do not matter. This also makes it evident that the enemy of choice for right-wing partidocratic politicians is the Latvian public, even though partidocrats have no juridical authority in and of itself except as a subjectivism that may be as personal as it is coincidental with that of the greed of the oligarch collective. Given that the word ‘populist’ emerged from the Latin ‘populus’ (plebs and people), ever wonder who the ‘enemy’ of the Latvian people may be? Not that the politicians would want you to know, but ultimately it is the people’s authority that is sovereign. Unfortunately, it is the politicians, who failing in humility and presuming they represent the norm of the superstructure (parliament as a collective of oligarchs each with his own party), try to steal it from them.

Rather than roll down a hill as it is capable of doing, the serpent (zalkts) for fear of failure starts to devour itself. This is the situation the present Latvian partidocratic government has put Latvia in. The partidocracy is destroying the country by causing it to become an empty place, both, by out migration and by way of the negativity (hopelessness) from those forced to stay. To paraphrase Moffe’s words, [it means] ‘that we cannot distinguish within a given regime of truth between those who respect the strategy of argumentation and its rules, and those who simply want to impose their power’. This is why ‘apocalyptical postmodernism… characterized by drift, dissemination, and the uncontrollable play of significations’, does indeed ordain for Latvia a radically new epoch. *** Unfortunately, “strategic argumentation and its rules” will not work without enablement by self-sacrifice.

The tragic drift of the Welsh people into Englishness will either be repeated by the Latvians (as Richard Burton surrendered to the seductive Elizabeth Taylor, Latvia may be seduced by someone named Pop) or the current of time will bring them to a chronal moment that will spring forth as a revelation. Instead of the partidocracies holding a royal flush that sucks up the last of the common good and communal bond, Latvians may have luck and draw a queen of spades followed by a joker called John, followed by a king of hearts, who, having been dealt the ace of hearts, calls the hand of his opponents and wins by invoking a near forgotten sovereign right to change the rules of the game. It is on this or a similar occultation of cards that Latvian populists must be make their bets. In short, it will be a new game with new rules. It will be won not by saying “yea” to a system gone sour (as if it can be unsoured by one more suspensions of disbelief), but by creating in a flash of inspiration a hegemony of “nays”, and electing a radical and plural democracy that acknowledges the need of the not-violent terror of self-sacrifice by drawing the Face of Glory on its flag.

Asterisk & Notes of Interest:

*Chantal Mouffe, The Return of the Political, Verso (paperback) 2005, p. 113.

**Claude Lefort, Democracy and Political Theory, Oxford 1988, p. 19.

*** Chantal Mouffe, ibid., p. 15.

On material deprivation  in Latvia.

On the theme of “more-equal-than-others”, re Orwell’s fable Animal Farm.

A recommended read: “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” by Emmanuel Goldstein (A book within a book from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four). An article to orient yourself on populism in America (and hear the echo in Latvia), re "Retrieving the Democrats’ Reason for Being" by Sam Smith.

Of great interest to me is this and like articles. It presents some of my reasons for supporting the growing of Johns Grass in Latvia.

These blogs tend to be a continuum of an idea or thought, which is why—if you are interested in what you read—you are encouraged to consider reading the previous blog and the blog hereafter.

Partial entries of my blogs may be found at LatviansOnline + Forum Home + Open Forum –ONLATVIANPOPULISM vs LATVIJASLABEJIE. If you copy this blog for your files, or copy to forward, or otherwise mention its content, please credit the author and http://esoschroniclnes.blogspot.com/

No comments:

Post a Comment