[Marxism] Royalty and "impression management" (also: Motown)

Jeff Rubard jeffrubard at fusemail.com
Tue Feb 10 22:53:14 MST 2004

> Message: 3
> Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 00:45:47 +0100
> From: "Jurriaan Bendien" <bendien at tomaatnet.nl>
> Subject: [Marxism] The class struggles in Holland: an episode of
> 	princely	politics in Dutch civil society, or, water under the bridge
> To: "Marxmail List" <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
> Message-ID: <003e01c3f030$01efe020$4996e3d5 at jurriaan>
> Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="iso-8859-1"
> I might have gone to visit my old christian auntie May last week in a dry
> spell, but the Dutch Queen Beatrix's father stirred up public opinion with
> a
> piece of his own recently (my Mum babysat Beatrix and her sister Irene
> just
> after the second world war when her mother, Queen Juliana, opened an
> Amsterdam creche. This was before I was born, must have been 1946 or 1947.
> Later my uncle when on safari with Prince Bernhard. So then you have this
> inescapable royal reference in family history).
> That is a bit off the mark. In fact, this means any ministerial
> responsibility for the actions of Bernhard is dismissed. Earlier Bernhard
> had ventured to explore the boundaries of moral discourse by openly
> supporting the violence of employees of Albert Heijn against a shoplifter,
> without being corrected by Balkendende [Some time ago an Albert Heijn
> supermarket hit the news, because two assistants had apprehended a thief
> stealing goods from the store. They did so with a considerable amount of
> violence. Prince Berhard offered to pay the fine which the two Albert
> Heijn
> employees had incurred for their handling of the situation. Later, another
> supermarket hit the news when a woman who was supposed to have stolen
> goods
> was chased by whole posse of shop assistants who apprehended her and used
> so
> much violence, that she later died - JB].
> If Balkenende really wanted to do Bernhard a service, then the premier
> would
> have hired an independent researcher, who would have done a thorough
> study.
> Because justabout all the criticism is now concentrated on the role of Van
> der Voet. He told yesterday on a TV actualities programme how he, as
> confidant of the Prince, was able to calmly rummage in the private
> archive,
> which Bernhard would not allow any outsider to do. That shows the weakness
> of the research, because others could not establish whether it is
> complete.
> The research is thus notable for its brevity. If it had been intended as a
> last word about these affairs, then it ought to have been much more
> thorough.

This is actually a very interesting topic to raise here, as the question
of the continuing role of the *noblesse d'fusil* in capitalism is one
which is rarely raised; and one which I think has quite a bit to do with
the "logic of *the* image" I was speaking of in connection with Trotsky.
Of course we are past the days when royal families would have a great deal
to do with commercial enterprises strictly considered (as in the horrible
Belgian Congo, a piece of private property the "history" of which is
detailed in the book *King Leopold's Ghost*); but the role of nobility
"and the like" in capitalism continues, in large part mediated by the
great ease with which the activities of nobility map onto "blueprints" of
human conduct but also motivated by immense fortunes such as that of the
Battenbourgs and the system-latency with which their actions are thereby

But sociologically speaking, to really track the progress of this
"significatory force" through otherwise "unexceptionable" statements
without lapsing either into paranoia or Notabilitie would require a theory
of the pragmatics of oblique reference more advanced than those currently
available, roughly equivalent to mature Hegelian metaphysics in scope. 
Are you sanguine about such a possibility?  I'm sure not, which is why the
Bordigist idea (roughly, an generalization of the principle of
council/soviet representation *in light of* that "non-destructive myth" of
a global order of "representational equality" which the Third
International was intended to be) appeals to me: it seems to me that a
Marxist politics worth having at the present time would be almost little
more than "working both ends against the middle" with respect to existing
social orders (such that hidden efficiencies, felicities of "song and
stage" with respect to the masses of men and women, are disclosed rather
than "revealed").  Thusly, those of us with a theoretical cast of mind
(myself included, I hope) should be quite circumspect about the extent to
which our discourse creates its own conditions of assessment, but I think
that this itself will make for a reading of Hegel quite in line both with
Hegel's original intentions and Marx's repeated objections to the closing
of the "hermeneutic circle".

> Reference: Jurriaan Bendien, "Doing it yourself" - Dutch Socialist party
> councillor in Amsterdam speaks out  Marxmail Post, Sunday 26 oktober 2003
> Keep on talking in my sleep 'cause I haven't seen my baby all week
> Now you kids you all agree, is that the way it's supposed to be
> Let me hear you, let me hear you say yeah, yeah, yeah
> I want a witness (Can I get a witness)
> I want a witness (Can I get a witness)
> I want a witness (Can I get a witness)
> I want a witness (Can I get a witness)
> Witness, witness, yeah, I want a witness
> - Rolling Stones, "Can I get a witness"
For example: this is originally a Marvin Gaye song, and I recently
reviewed the book *Standing In The Shadows of Motown* (devoted to James
Jamerson alone) as though the Funk Brothers were the "Black Jacobins",
which they *might well have been in their own minds* on account of C.L.R.
James' presence in Detroit during that period.  But this is more than
conjecture (and thusly almost questionable *in my invocation of it*) on
account of the function of Motown lyrics, which are very much a defense of
"revolutionary virtue" (i.e., standardized romantic sentiments *less*
objectionable than the *common culture* which preceded them).  As such,
the sequence of thoughts accessible to those who can "enumerate" such
properties is really very "rigorized": a satirical attitude towards the
songs is not really "given to" the listener "to be done", which may
provide the faintest of "internal" perspectives on the question of "the


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