Unlike the feudal past, where power was presumed and privilege inherited, the conservative future envisions a world where power is demonstrated and privilege earned: not in the antiseptic and anodyne halls of the meritocracy, where admission is readily secured—“the road to eminence and power, from obscure condition, ought not to be made too easy, nor a thing too much of course”85—but in the arduous struggle for supremacy. In that struggle, nothing matters, not inheritance, social connections, or economic resources, but one’s native intelligence and innate strength. Genuine excellence is revealed and rewarded, true nobility is secured.
Corey Robin - The Reactionary Mind
I think this is what distinguishes conservatives from fascists and racists. All three believe in hierarchy, and the inherent rightness of superiors controlling or guiding those who are deemed inferior. What distinguishes them is the metrics they use to determine who is actually inferior and superior.
The first distinction is that the conservative believes that all men—and for the more progressive conservatives, women as well— have the ability to be superiors, but not all individuals can be superior. The quote by Robin highlights well what contemporary conservatives think, and it is important to make a note that this is what makes the different from fascists or racists.
To fascists, there is a neo-feudal element to their belief system. There is a natural aristocratic class that are destined to rule over others. How they determine this is esoteric, at best—to my knowledge. I do not think it strange that fascism and mysticism are so closely aligned in the actual praxis of fascism, if not the theory. Another way they determine this is through warfare, and the ability of men to prove their masculinity and superiority (since these are synonymous in this worldview) through victory. The fetishism of violence is part-and-parcel of this worldview of having to constantly prove the superiority of some over others. Their use of violence is often justified on the idea that the victims of the violence of sub-human, if not vermin.
Racists are not different, but arguably they are populist in the sense that if you belong to the proper race you are inherently superior, regardless of your actions or social position. This is, as Foucault notes, the supreme anti-revolutionary ideology. It allows individuals to displace their hostility towards the inequality they face by empowering themselves against the non-master race. The “wages of whiteness” was sufficient to stave off the radical potential of the working classes throughout the Americas for centuries, and even to this day.
I think it important to create these typologies of right-wing in order to better tackle it as a viable political project.
As in Marx’s formula of the expanded reproduction of capital, M-C-M’, the interplay leads to a cycle: the institution of politics-as- order, followed by the political life subversion that seeks to institute new (different) figures of political order, and so on. However, in the case of politics, the M’ of the new figures is not prima facie bigger or better than the original M; it is simply different.
…overcoding…is just one ‘dialectical’ way of following out the logic, methodologically speaking: if everything in our world exists on the same flat plane, then things that don’t at first seem to have much in common quite literally have to be related in some way(s)…. In short Jameson’s work, both the content and, just as important, the form, is targeted decisvely against the theoretical and political imperatives of logical positivist empiricism—against seperating out realms of social life into more easily policeable and controllable chunks, never confronting one social code with the values, language, and force of another. (22-23)
As Nealon states, arguing from Jameson’s observations, the postmodern method of inference is effectively impossible. Unlike positivism that focuses on more discrete forms of knowledge and claims, the postmodern and post-postmodern method (from what I could gather) argues that what seems desperate from the perspective of positivism is actually part-and-parcel of that which is being observed. If everything is relevant and interconnected through a single logos, then I have to wonder what is this universal mechanism that unites these seemingly desperate ‘life worlds?’ The claim made by Jameson and Nealon is that we can articulate history through ‘epochs’, but there is no real discussion of how to know when an epoch starts or finishes. Since the cultural is as important as the economic, appealing to the economic, as Nealon seems to be doing, suggests to me a hidden Althusser of the ‘last instance.’
Another problem I have with this method is that it is not really a method. I think the ontological claim being made is one that could have some real validity, but that is insufficient. The reality is that epistemologically, we take stands that they have real costs associated with them, and there should be more awareness from the post(post)modern perspective of the real lacunae of their methods of inference. I doubt the claims made in this way of thinking can be generalizable, or comparable; indeed, can it even be re-tested to check for its veracity? If not, then how does this contribute to the accumulation of knowledge?
I’ve been pressured to post this meme I made while drunk at rainbo last night in Chicago. Also, it was called “Eli Manning”….make your own conclusions.
It is, as we have seen, the logic of the value-abstraction to express utter indifference to use-values, notably to the needs of the concrete, sensuous beings who are bearers of labour-power. What matters for capital is not the capacity of a given commodity to satisfy specific human needs; instead, what counts is its capacity to exchange for money, to turn a profit, to assist accumulation. Bread, steel, water, houses, clothing, computers and cars count only as potential sums of money; their specific use-values are ultimately irrelevant to the drive to accumulate. Capital is thus indifferent to the concrete need-satisfying properties of particular goods. For capital, they are all interchangeable, merely potential sums of expandable wealth. The rich diversity of human needs is thus flattened out (abstracted) by the expansionary drive of capital.
Our theory for world inequality shows how political and economic institutions interact in causing poverty or prosperity, and how different parts of the world ended up with such different sets of institutions…. Different patterns of institutions today are deeply rooted in the past because once society gets organized in a particular way, this tends to persist…. This persistence and the forces that create it also explain why it is so difficult to remove world inequality and to make poor countries prosperous.
Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. Why Nations Fail
Ok, so these economists are being credited for creating this great theory of why countries are poor. Am I the only one who sees this argument in the dependency and world system theorists from Furtado, Cardoso, Wallerstein and Frank? You know, a discourse that originates from the 1960s and 1970s in Latin America and critical schools? Oh that’s right, this is what happens when you ignore entire fields of literature. Also, I wonder if they will come to the same conclusions that these older thinkers came to when it came to break the ”path dependent” consequences of history, namely revolution or heavy state intervention in the economy and society? I’ll find out.
Labor in capitalism becomes a weapon used against its possessors as individuals and as a class rather than something that frees them from the dictates of nature. (91)
Paul Paolucci, Marx’s Scienti!c Dialectics
Great quote from a good book on Marx’s dialectical method.