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41. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Peter Hudis Philosophic Implications of the War over Kosova
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In analysis of reactions to the NATO-led bombing of Kosova, the author finds that radical critics relied on a disembodied logic of anti-imperialism rather than focusing on the experience of the Kosovar population. For this reason, the author argues that the left failed to consider the history of Kosovar nonviolent resistance to Serbian domination or the Serbian repressions that followed. And in the aftermath of the bombing, the left failed to see how NATO intervention was also leveled at dismembering the indigenous liberation struggle of the Kosovar population. Behind these errors, the author argues for philosophic reform of left analysis, that will move beyond binary oppositions of imperialism/anti-imperialism, into more dialectical engagement with historical particulars, especially when those particulars involve emerging indigenous movements for liberation.
42. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Cliff DuRand Making the World Safe for US: Cultural Roots of the USA Interventionism
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In the roots of political culture in the USA, Tocqueville long ago noted with concern an individualism that could undercut needed structures of shared community. This individualism, argues the author, is one key feature of American culture that tends to empower military interventionism by empowering American elites to go their own way and pursue their own interests, without too much worry that they will be held accountable to more communitarian standards. Yet, American culture is not one-sided, and the author encourages public appeals to another, balancing cultural value, that of republicanism. The author also touches briefly on the cultural tradition of American messianism and its value to globe-conquering elites.
43. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Greg Moses Desire at the Docks: A Preview
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In this introductory essay the editor places the broad movement of Marxist philosophy into a tradition that, since Plato, has endeavored to stimulate desire for concepts of justice, in contexts of flourishing commercial power. Although Plato and the modern philosopher both know the risks of such undertakings (it was majority rule that put Socrates to death), and although powerful commercial interests have never been altogether comfortable in philosophical company, nevertheless the academy and the work of philosophy proves to be a curious necessity, as this collection of essays demonstrates.
44. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Robert Ware Creating Organizations and Institutions for Radical Democracy
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Typical philosophies of liberation often assume, and sometimes argue, that freedom and democracy will be best experienced through an absence of institutions. Contrary to this trend in theory, the author argues that a better philosophy of liberation will seek to transform institutions, rather than abolish them. Using examples of cooperative experiments in the Basque territories and in Brazil, the author argues that experiences of liberation are achieved through new forms of institutional life that nurture participatory and egalitarian relationships between people.
45. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Len Krimerman One Cheer for Experimental Pluralism, Another for Education-Shaped Democracy
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In reply to a chapter by Robert Ware on the need to include, rather than eliminate, institutions in theories of liberation, the author warns that liberation theory must walk on both social and psychological legs and then argues that Ware’s comparative analysis of institutions fails to lead analysis into crucial reflection on how individuals are transformed. Drawing on the work of John Dewey and George Benello, the author argues that an educational philosophy can offer a helpful framework for thinking about relationships between institutions and individuals, such that genuinely democratic institutions would be recognized as being more developmentally educative for individuals involved. The chapter also contains a brief reply by Ware.
46. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 3
Harry Targ Class and Race in the USA Labor Movement: The Case of the Packinghouse Workers
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Drawing on several recent studies, and a few personal interviews with leadership, the author reviews the history (1937-1968) of the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA) in order to demonstrate how this Chicago-based labor movement exemplified radical commitments to social welfare and civil rights, in addition to more traditional concerns with pay and other shopfloor issues. Not only did the union have significant membership among African-American workers, but it also undertook active programs of anti-racism in order to fight racial discrimination with its own ranks. The union also resisted much of the anti-communist politics of the post-Cold War era, resulting in a tradition of racial commitments to “social unionism.” For example, this was one of the first unions to offer financial support to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference soon after the civil rights organization was founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
47. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Omar Dahbour Is “Globalizing Democracy” Possible?
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Comparing Carol Gould’s Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights to other recent discussions of global justice, Dahbour argues that her work offers two important theoretical departures: It grounds global rights and democracy along foundationalist rather than constructivist lines; and it rejects the notion that just global institutions require the equal input of all those affected by their activities, defending instead that only those engaged in the “common activity” of institutions should participate in the decision-making. On the basis of this common activity guideline, Dahbour argues against Gould that we should not move toward “globalizing democracy” (or political cosmopolitanism) because globalization has been mostly a project of U.S. Empire. Instead, furthering democracy andhuman rights requires the strengthening of local democracy and support of the global justice movement as an antiglobalization movement. [Abstract prepared by the Editors.]
48. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Kory P. Schaff Are There Human Rights?
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Guided by Hegel’s claim that rights are actual only with the modern state, and noting that the “abstract spirit of Kant’s cosmopolitanism” is pervasive in Carol Gould’s Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights, Schaff raises a variety of moral, political, and ontological objections to her account of rights. Most controversially, he argues that if we embrace with Gould the idea that people have rights even if their political community does not grant them, we may play into the hands of imperial aggression cloaked in human rights language—as exemplified by the justificatory rhetoric of the U.S. in support of its recent interventions and its ongoing occupation of Iraq. [Abstract prepared by the Editors.]
49. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
David Schweickart Stakeholders and Terrorists: On Carol Gould’s Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights
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Schweickart argues that Gould in her most recent book seems to have shifted away from the notion of economic democracy as “one person, one vote” to a less radical modified stakeholder view in which the various constituents of the economic enterprise, including employees, stockholders, and managers, share in decision-making power. Noting that Gould does not explain why she holds that workplace democracy is a too stringent participatory demand, Schweickart brings up a variety of arguments that might be offered in support of her claim and finds them all clearly wanting. More briefly, he addresses Gould’s normative analysis of terrorism, concluding that it raises, but does not address, the difficult question, “Should we empathize with the [suicide] terrorists?” [Abstract prepared by the Editors.]
50. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Carol C. Gould A Reply to My Critics
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In response to critical discussions of her Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights by William McBride, Omar Dahbour, Kory Schaff, and David Schweickart, Gould grants that globalization and U.S. Empire are intertwined, but she argues that this does not refute that global and transnational interconnections and networks are developing that are in need of substantive democracy. Gould further seeks to clarify two main interpretive misunderstandings of her critics. First, even though she rejects “all affected” as a criterion for determining the participants of institutional decision-making, she does leave room for participation of the “affected” when the fulfillment of their basic rights is at stake. Second, she argues that her vision of democratizing economic institutions is not fundamentallydifferent from the traditional idea of workplace democracy. Other topics addressed are the normative grounding of human rights, the error of reducing human rights to positive law, and the incoherency of the notion that democracy can be imposed by the barrel of a gun. Finally, Gould maintains that empathy, if properly understood, should be extended to terrorists, while we should also strongly condemn their rejection of noncombatant immunity. [Abstract prepared by the Editors.]
51. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Ann Ferguson No Just War for the Empire
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Although international law and the Charter of the United Nations define a doctrine of just war, some critics have argued that the U.S. has become an empire that can no longer be bound by such doctrine. On the contrary, I maintain that we must retain just war doctrine as a normative base from which to critique the U.S. and its preemptive wars against terrorism. Neither the Afghanistan nor the Iraq war has been a just war. By its imperialist intentions and barbarous actions, the U.S. government has shown itself no longer to be a legitimate authority with the moral justification to begin or conduct a war. Such subversion of democratic deliberation requires a moral force to mobilize resistance from below. Since no war initiated by the undemocratic elite of the U.S. Empire could possibly be just, we have a conscientious obligation to become revolutionary pacifists against any wars called by such an illegitimate government. In contrast to universal pacifism, a context-justified revolutionary pacifism can be defended as a coherent moral and political position.
52. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Edmund F. Byrne Leave No Oil Reserves Behind, Including Iraq’s: The Geopolitics of American Imperialism
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Just war theory needs to become a real-time critique of government war propaganda in order to facilitate peace advocacy ante bellum. This involves countering asserted justificatory reasons with demonstrable facts that reveal other motives, thereby yielding reflective understanding which can be collectivized via electronic media. As a case in point, I compare here the publicly declared reasons for the U.S./U.K. invasion of Iraq in 2003 with reasons discussed internally months and even years before in government and think-tank documents. These sources show that control of oil rather than regime change or a WMD threat was theunderlying motive. Neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration justified such deception by citing an exoteric/esoteric distinction traceable to Plato via Leo Strauss. As with the Iraq invasion, so in general such propaganda and its rationalizations can be undermined by investigative journalism understood as ranging from fact gathering to rhetorical analysis and critique.
53. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
David R. Cormier, Harry Targ Globalization, Neoliberalism, and the “Precarious Classes”: The Next Phase
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This paper looks at an emerging major economic trend which appears to be, in part, a consequence of neoliberal globalization. This development is the rise of a huge segment of the world’s population, in both developed and developing countries, comprising a redundant or unneeded group of workers, both rural and urban. These make up “the precarious classes.” The paper initially presents background ideas to set the stage for discussing these findings. It looks at data summarizing the consequences of globalization to date in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. The rise of the “working poor” in the U.S. is first documented and then we summarize Samir Amin’s work on what he calls the emergence of “precarious classes” around the globe. Finally, we tie this apparent trend to related global problems and look at what is needed to further research this potentially ominous development.
54. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Jo-Ann Pilardi From Alien to Guest: A Philosophical Scrutiny of the Bush Administration’s “Guest Worker” Initiative
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This paper examines the Bush Administration’s immigration “reform” initiative of January 2004, which proposes a guest worker category to further regulate the continuing immigration of workers into the United States. The plan is particularly intended to affect the flow of workers from Mexico. I will argue that this doesn’t represent an improvement but rather creates a deeper level of alienation for the laborer and greater control for global capital, and results in another layer of control over human subjects through the regulation of identity. However, there are promising signs that global capital may be weakening, due to both internaland external forces. I don’t propose specific immigration policy changes in this paper.
55. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Lucinda Joy Peach Victims or Agents? Female Cross-Border Migrants and Anti-Trafficking Discourse
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Scholars have recently suggested the desirability of moving the migrant female subject to the center of the analysis of sex trafficking and other forms of women’s cross-border migration. At first glance, this seems to be a progressive move forward in empowering women and protecting their human rights, especially those who have been trafficked for the sex trade or have otherwise migrated for work in the sex industry. However, putting the victim of trafficking into the center of trafficking analysis also creates new problems, especially for the formulation and implementation of law and public policy. In this paper, I will first discuss some of the factors that favor putting the female migrant subject at the center of anti-trafficking, such as recognition and respect for the autonomy of the person that is at the center of trafficking. I will then discuss some of the problems that such a reconfiguration would entail.
56. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Karsten J. Struhl Can There Be a Just War?
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Just war theory distinguishes between jus ad bellum (whether the war itself is just) and jus in bello (whether the conduct of the war is just). I argue, against the traditional view, that modern warfare has made it impossible to separate the two in practice. Specifically, I argue that modern war is a techno-cultural system which requires its participants to violate the primary criterion of jus in bello—noncombatant immunity. From this it follows that even a war of self-defense is not a just war. I consider several challenges to my position: the doctrine of double effect and the claim that noncombatant immunity can be suspended on the basis of military necessity or supreme emergency. I argue that neither of these challenges is acceptable and that to suspend the rule of noncombatant immunity is to suspend the moral point of view. Finally, I consider alternatives which would change the techno-cultural system of modern war.
57. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Devin Zane Shaw The Absence of Evidence is Not the Evidence of Absence: Biopolitics and the State of Exception
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In this essay, I attempt to show that the “war on terror” intensifies the use of biopolitical techniques. One such example, which I take as a point of departure, is Guantánamo Bay. We must place this camp in its proper genealogy with the many camps of the twentieth century. However, this genealogy is not a genealogy of the extremes of political space during and after the twentieth century; it is a genealogy of the transformation of political space itself. I will attempt to show this in three steps: first, a description and critique of the biopolitical in both Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben, who I take as exemplary in their analyses; second, an analysis of contemporary biopolitical techniques (including the camp), which enables us to avoid the liberal-democratic ideological misunderstanding of the war on terror; and third, a discussion regarding resistance to biopolitical techniques.
58. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Tzuchien Tho Politics and the Void: Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Žižek on the State of Emergency
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Although working through different traditions in European philosophy, the works of Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Žižek have recently focused on issues surrounding the “state of emergency” that characterizes our age of increasing humanitarianism and global “police” actions. By investigating parallels in their separate diagnoses of our current political tendencies, this paper examines their suggestions for a political program of the future. Beginning with the paradoxes revealed in the ontological referent implied in “universal human rights,” this investigation will examine the contemporary failure at developing a viable political ontology and the ensuing theoretical possibilities that these failures open for a politics of the future.
59. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Eduardo Mendieta The Imperial Bestiary of the U.S.: Alien, Enemy Combatant, Terrorist
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The so-called War on Terror has given rise to a virulent discourse that demonizes all those who allegedly seek to do harm and kill Americans. A veritable bestiary of demonic and bestial creatures has been thus ensembled, constituting what one cannot but call an “imperial bestiary.” Here we do not so much consider the contents of this imperial bestiary, as much as seek to analyze its grammar, that is, the way it operates on certain moral assumptions that have very pernicious moral consequences. Reconstructing the work of some recent critical philosophers, a possible way to dismantle all bestiaries, whether imperial or colonial, is elaborated. The work of Mary Midgley, Jacques Derrida and Donna Haraway are brought together to develop what has been here called a politics beyond monsters, beasts, roguish animals, and infesting vermin that must be at best domesticated, and at worst exterminated.
60. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Richard Schmitt Can the Alienated Make a Socialist Revolution? Reflections About the Prospects for Socialism
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Alienation is the name of the deformations of human personality produced by capitalism and, specifically, by wage labor. The alienated are powerless. That inhibits their self-esteem, and takes from them the direction of their own lives and the choice of their life values. They become passive bystanders to existence, distrustful of their fellows and motivated by the desire for gain. The alienated tend to be timid, morally indifferent, and ready to support great evil. Appearances are all that matters to them. They are resentful, conservative. Alienation itself becomes invisible. It unfits those who work for a wage from being active in the movements for social change from capitalism to socialism. The transition to socialism appears to become well-nigh impossible. The force of this argument ismoderated by the fact that the conditions of wage labor are not uniform and alienation, and therefore are more severe for some workers than for others.