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61. 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.
62. 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.
63. 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.
64. 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.
65. 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.
66. 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.
67. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Richard A. Jones Black Authenticity/Inauthenticity and American Empire
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In this paper, I explore political identity for African Americans in an era where the stated aim of the U.S. is global dominance. In ordinary language, I am interested in how blacks can effectively engage in dissent, civil disobedience, protest, insurrection, and revolutionary actions while surviving in an atmosphere where the majority believe either Bush I’s “A friend of my enemy is my enemy,” or Bush II’s “If you harbor terrorists, you’re a terrorist; if you aid and abet terrorists, you’re a terrorist—and you’ll be treated like one.” This paper attempts to interrogate how African Americans—who identify with globally oppressed and distressed peoples—can survive while actively protesting within an armed camp. Or does being black in America mean that one is either a terrorist sympathizer or anUncle Tom? The answers to these questions require a coalition of the unwilling.
68. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Richard T. Peterson Human Rights and the Politics of Neo-colonial Intervention
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What kind of ethical perspective is available for criticizing policies like the U.S. intervention in Iraq? Though human rights seems to offer a framework suited to this kind of global politics, the realities of the neo-colonial world bring the viability of its universality into question. Democratic responsibility may offer a bridging perspective, though it too lacks convincing embodiment. Exploration of the preconditions for assuming such responsibility does help us grasp some political features of the required agency and also helps us sketch a historical and conflict-based notion of human rights that may allow for a notion of an unfolding ethic that permits the kind of criticism that is required for thinking about neo-colonial relations in concrete ethical terms.
69. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Peter Amato Marxist Critique and Philosophical Hermeneutics: Outlines of a Hermeneutical-Historical Materialism
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Philosophically robust conceptions of ethical life and moral critique would advance the struggle against capital. Marx can be read as implying that human life is irreducibly meaningful, linguistic, and cultural, but he often is not. Whether or not Marx recognized them himself, these dimensions of life have not been sufficiently thematized or developed by Marxists. I argue that we can move toward doing so with assistance from Hans-Georg Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics. A hermeneutical approach to historical materialism would help clarify and articulate some aspects of Marxism which in particular have been hard to resolve within a wider view of the ethical, political, scientific, and historical dimensions of social action and change.
70. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
William McBride Carol Gould’s Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights
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McBride offers a succinct summary of Gould’s book and ponders what the significance of theoretical discussions of the nature of human rights and degrees of democracy might be for our time when the U.S. government has descended into “barbarism” and made a sham out of anything resembling democracy. He concludes that Gould’s book is “first rate” as “a learned exercise in dreaming,” granting against his own deep pessimism that one can never know for sure that “dreams” may not turn out to have some practical relevance. [Abstract prepared by the Editors.]
71. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 4
Tony Smith, Harry van der Linden Introduction
72. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 5
Abstracts
73. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 5
Eduardo Mendieta The Prison Contract and Abolition Democracy
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This article discusses the fortuitous genesis of the book of my conversations with Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy (Seven Stories, 2005) and traces some of the intellectual and philosophical sources that informed the specific questions and approaches that inform the dialogue. Davis’ relationships to Georg Rusche and Otto Kirchheimer, as well as to Foucault, are discussed. Similarly, Davis’ place within a critical black American political-philosophical tradition is analyzed. The essay focuses mainly, however, on the way in which Davis’ work on the prison industrial complex profiles an unsuspected contribution to political philosophy that links up the disciplinary origins of American democracy with its racial contract to give rise to the prison contract. In the tradition of Charles Mills, Davis’ radical theory of penality unmasks and denounces the over-determined relationship between surplus punishment and the racial character of the US polity in terms of theproductivity of the prison system.
74. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 5
Lisa Heldke The Radical Potential of Listening: A Preliminary Exploration
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In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill argues that free speech possesses value because listening is valuable: it can advance one’s own thinking and action. However, listening becomes difficult when one finds the views of a speaker to be wrong, repellant, or even simply naïve. Everyday wisdom would have it that such cases present the greatest opportunities for growth. Is there substance to this claim? In particular, is there radical political value to be found in listening to others at the very times one is most disinclined to do so? I contend that there is. This paper explores the political potential of what I call “radical listening.” What characterizes radical listening? How can it serve politically transformative purposes? To what extent are the powers of radical listening strategic, and to what extent is it valuablefor more conceptual reasons? Under what circumstances is it appropriate? What are the limits to, and dangers of, radical listening?
75. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 5
C. W. Dawson, Jr. When the House Is on Fire: Finding Hope in the Midst of Democratic Despair
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This paper is a philosophical, socio-political, analysis of the problem of democratic despair and the possibility of finding hope in the midst of it. The analysis spring boards from a dialectical discussion on the state of Black America between Harry Belafonte, Minister Louis Farrakhan, and Cornel West, to an examination of the reasons for believing this house called America is on fire. The paper then moves to two possible responses for African Americans to the burning house: separatism (physical or psychological), and radical cultural pluralism grounded in a transformative deep democracy. The paper opts for the latter, concludes by offering a new cultural pluralistic democracy as a model for hope, and suggests the basic tools necessary for building such a transformative democracy.
76. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 5
Brady Thomas Heiner “From the Prison of Slavery to the Slavery of Prison”: Angela Y. Davis’s Abolition Democracy
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One of the most radical dimensions of Davis’s critique of American democracy is her exposure of the vestiges of slavery that remain in the contemporary criminal justice system. I discuss this aspect of her critical project, its roots in Du Bois’s critique of Black Reconstruction, and the way that it informs her prison abolitionism and her two-pronged program for the formation of a genuine “abolition democracy.” I conclude by reflecting upon Davis’s reticence about abolition as a constructive enterprise and assessing some of the challenges faced by the contemporary abolitionist movement.
77. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 5
Mechthild Nagel In Search of Abolition Democracy
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This paper focuses on the meaning of Du Bois’s concept of “abolition democracy” and on the ideology of the abstract rights-bearing subject. In Abolition Democracy, Angela Y. Davis calls for the abolition of oppressive institutions, such as U.S. prisons, in order to engender abolition democracy. She also questions how subjects appear before the law, which justifies and normalizes inhumane practices, such as the death penalty. In conclusion, the paper explores ideas on how to conceptualize thinking “beyond” the prison industrial complex not only in North America but globally.
78. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 5
Jason L. Mallory Prisoner Oppression and Free World Privilege
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The position I defend in this paper is that both prisoners and ex-prisoners, at least within present U.S. society, experience a form of oppression that can be distinguished from that inflicted upon other structurally disadvantaged groups. As a result of these U.S. conditions, I also argue that those who have not been or are not currently incarcerated may possess some unearned advantages, similar to but also different from other forms of privilege, such as those based upon race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability. In the first section, I investigate three definitions of oppression to articulate my thesis of prisoner oppression, using the work of Marilyn Frye, Kenneth Clatterbaugh, and Ann E. Cudd. In the second section, I respond to three objections against my thesis. I conclude in the third section with some thoughts on how the preceding arguments should affect the dominant discourse regarding prison reform and abolition.
79. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 5
Dwayne A. Tunstall Why Violence Can Be Viewed as a Legitimate Means of Combating White Supremacy for Some African Americans
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Philosophers often entertain positions that they themselves do not hold. This article is an example of this. While I do not advocate localized acts of violence to combat white supremacy, I think that it is worthwhile to explore why it might be theoretically justifiable for some African Americans to commit such acts of violence. I contend that acts of localized violence are at least theoretical justifiable for some African Americans from the vantage point of racial realism. Yet, I also contend that the likely detrimental consequences of engaging in such violence on economically disadvantaged African Americans outweigh its possible benefits for them; hence, it should not be used by them to combat white supremacy presently.
80. Radical Philosophy Today: Volume > 5
Amy E. Wendling Rough, Foul-Mouthed Boys: Women’s Monstrous Laboring Bodies
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Karl Marx claims that alienation inheres in all wage labor. I raise questions about the applicability of this claim to subjects of patriarchy. In the first section, I discuss industrial wage labor and its allure for women who were trying to escape the norms of familial patriarchy. In the second section, I extend this criticism of Marx’s claim by considering the racially enslaved subjects of the Antebellum American South, for whom economicallyrecognized wage labor was still a bloody political battle. Finally, I turn to the identification of working class women and sexuality, in order to show how wage labor offered liberation from narrow bourgeois sexual strictures. I conclude by reassessing the viability of Marx’s critique of alienation, taking into account the standpoints from which wage labor itself was a considerable political achievement.