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

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Wed Feb 11 03:08:11 MST 2004

 a piece of private property the "history" of which is
> detailed in the book *King Leopold's Ghost*);

An insightful article on King Leopold II's conquest of the Congo is J.
Stengers, "King Leopold's imperialism", reprinted in Roger Owen and Bob
Sutcliffe, Studies in the theory of imperialism (Longman, 1977, pp. 248-776)

> 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?

Yes and no. Yes, because there is always scope for "possibility" and one
cannot hope for anything, without reference to possibility. But a theory of
the pragmatics of oblique reference ?

I think we should ask ourselves first of all, how the situation would arise,
such that one would need to theorise "the pragmatics of oblique reference".
Let me explicate in a quick ten points based on my 1981 research on this
topic (this is part of my critique of Jurgen Habermas):

1. In the urge for a more subtle, creative and sympathetic interpretation of
the Other, the true motives and interests inspiring such an interpretation
are often lost sight of, and consequently a rational relationship between
means and ends is lost sight of, with the result, that a theoretical object
begins to substitute for a real object of theory, such that theory is no
longer developed from or disciplined by a specific real object of theory,
but ideas are spun out of other ideas, in a manner already criticised by
Marx in his critique of the Young Hegelians. In which case, a "language" is
propagated without rhyme or reason other than the rhyme or reason which
exists internal to itself, inviting the accusation of ideological
obscurantism perpetrated by the postmodernists - they invent complicated
ways of saying things that are really rather simple, and combine them with
statements which are not objectively verifiable and hence substantively
ambiguous, with the result, that simple things are made to appear
complicated while complicated things are grasped in a naive, analogic or
associative way. This violates the scientific criterion that the best
scientific theory is the simplest theory with the greatest explanatory and
predictive power, and hence, insofar as postmodernism conflates art with
science rather than complementing the two, the result is irrationalism.

2. Human consciousness can be categorised as comprising six different
possible positions or possible vantage points: subconscious and conscious,
and within conscious awareness, subjective awareness, intersubjective
awareness, objective awareness, reality-transforming awareness, and
transcendent awareness. This is a foundational premiss in my philosophy of
human praxis, you have these six possible moves in human consciousness. Of
course, you can do things without being aware of what you are doing. The
human body has a type of "sentience" which exists independently of
consciousness ("the body thinks"), because the nervous system has both a
somatic part and an autonomic part which has parasympathetic and sympathetic
parts. Nevertheless, part of the body's self-regulation is simply not
conscious in any sense.

3. Postmodernist thought generally attempts to overcome the objectification
or reification that may result from an obsession with objective awareness
("whores of reason" type thing) and consequent abstraction of human
subjectivities, by returning us to subjective, and more often
intersubjective vantage points.

4. The epistemic question for the philosopher however is, to what extent we
can validly theorise about intersubjective relations, if theory is
understood as a set of generalisations from experience, which go beyond that
experience and help organise experience, and which aim to have an objective

5. In other words, the salient questions are: (1) what can we say about
intersubjective relations that can have an objective validity (i.e. a
validity or truth content which exists mind-independently or at least
independently of particular human knowers) ? and (2) how would we obtain an
objectively valid knowledge, what processes are involved ?

6. And it occurred to me that in seeking to "theorise" intersubjective human
relations, one might easily reify those intersubjective relations. Hence, it
is necessary to keep the purpose of theorising firmly in mind.

7. In reality, what we can theorise about intersubjective relations is
limited by what we can objectively observe about those intersubjective
relations, but the problem here is, that intersubjective relations contain
meanings which are not objectively verifiable, we can only speculate about
them. The reason why those meanings are not objectively verifiable is
because all meaning is ultimately relational (a meaning is the awareness of
a relation between discrete or distinct entities of some sort), i.e. context
dependent, but it is not possible the specify the context of intersubjective
relations completely or even substantively in an objective way.

8. Hence, even if we can formulate a theory of intersubjective relations,
the field of application of this theory is very limited because of the fact,
that part of the meaning of intersubjective relations cannot be specified in
objectively verifiable terms.

9. This being so, the question then arises of the utility of such a theory.
Does it lead to an increase in proletarian class consciousness ? Or is it
merely a rationalisation/apology for inaction, or the lack of a scientific
method for attaining objective knowledge ?

10. In socialist politics, it is imperative to redirect or guide theorising
to fields where it may be usefully applied, and certainly for Marx,
"utility" of theorising here consists in theorising which really assists the
raising of the social and political consciousness of the working classes and
more generally, the raising of the awareness of the need for a transition to
a socialist form of economy, politics and culture.


 Nobody listens to a word that I say
 And at work I'm just a foremans tool
 Sitting in the corner with my coffee & tray
 All the secretaries think I'm a fool

 I don't wanna suffer these conditions no more
 Haven't I the right to say
 I don't wanna suffer these conditions no more
 Nobody takes me seriously anyway
 Nobody takes me seriously anyway
 Nobody takes me seriously anyway

 Loves not a glimpse, it's a permanent rinse
 And it keeps you on your toes all day
 Every girl I met seemed to get apathetic
 When I looked at her that special way

 I can't get nobody else to take me for real
 They like to keep me tucked away
 Even if they listened to what I had to say
 Nobody'd take me seriously anyway
 Nobody takes me seriously anyway
 Nobody takes me seriously anyway

 If war broke out I'd be the last one to know
 If there was a fire they'd just leave me to burn
 I got just as much to say as any man
 But I never seem to get my turn

 I don't wanna suffer these conditions no more
 Haven't I the right to say
 I don't wanna suffer these conditions no more
 Nobody takes me seriously anyway
 Nobody takes me seriously anyway
 Nobody takes me seriously anyway

- Tim Finn/Split Enz, ""Nobody takes me seriously anyway"

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