g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Mon Jun 24 01:13:56 MDT 1996
I have just received a copy of a publication put out by the Australian Key
Centre For Cultural and Media Policy called "Media & Culture Review". It is
typical of the publications that are springing up now round Cultural
Studies. The director of the Centre is Tony Bennett. What is particularly
interesting is the focus on Asia. Partly this reflects Australia's
nervousness about being isolated in Asia as a poor white trash nation lost
in dreams of colonial glory.
But the "push into Asia" as it is called is also over determined by a
politics which is firmly pro-American imperialist. Thus recently in
Washington key Australian politicians emphasised that their number one
agenda was to ensure that American stayed in the Asia-Pacific Regiion as
"honest broker". They also expressed great worry that most Australians do
not see the abosolute necessity of this. One of the worst politicisians
here is the Labor leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazeley.
The game of course is to remain an American client while selling in Asian
markets. A difficult balancing act, but one the ass kissers are good at.
Now how does all this impact on the Cultural Theorists. Well here of
course the absolute paradigm is "The emperor's New clothes". Academics have
to weave and spin words and not cloth (truth) and for this the language of
post-modernism is absolutely useful. Above all there must be no reference
to the dynamics of imperialism and how the imperative is to rip off and
super exploit the masses of Asia. Nor must there be any notion of building
solidarity with the exploited masses. Here the academic's job can be seen
as both covering over while simultaneously attempting to provide sign posts
for the bourgeoisie along the money trail.
Consider for instance the following
"Bhabha is useful here because he (quite rightly) identifies Said's - and
postcolonial theory's- most significant weakness as a residual commitment to
humanist notions of subjectivity and moral value. Said's unwillingness to
develop or heed the implications of his own insights (for instance, that
colonialism was always, to some extent, predicated on- and constituted
through- a a strategic deployment of humanist discourses and values) means
that, at least theoretically, he simultaneously critiques and reproduces the
preconditions of colonialism in his own work." (T. Schirato, "Colonial
notions fade as globe deterritorialises":10)
What is all this code for? Said is in some way being attacked. Why? Well
Said's main contribution as Aijaz Ahmad has pointed out is his commitment to
the Palestinian revolution. It is this that marks him out from most of the
theorists in his field. Of course his anti-Marxism has helped make him a
hero of Theory and the Pomo push, but his is still the voice of the
dispossessed. In other words in Said's writings we can still detect the
echo of real struggle against imperialism, and it is this that must be
buried under a mountain of pretentious prose.
I should perhaps be a bit fairer to Schirato here. He does advocate a turn
to Foucault's "truth/power nexus" and he does talk of political and social
domination in North and South Korea and elsewhere. But talk of truth and
power are useless especially if they are framed within Foucault's
neo-Neitzschean notion of the universality of the will to power and hence
the impossibility of ever over-coming power.
For me then that is why the reports that Comrade Adolfo makes are especially
interesting. They are rooted in the real struggle of a people to be free
and as such they are the perfect anecdote for the posturings of an impotent
and servile academy.
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