Sunday, May 22, 2011

Maa-Mati-Manush, soil- tornadoes-hurricanes

our times, and that we should toil in concert for a theory of the universe and of life, in order that thus we may arrive at a mental disposition which shall make us really and truly civilized men.
... of all the catastrophes and misery of our times, and that we should work together for a theory of the universe and of life, in order that thus we may arrive at a mental disposition which shall make us really and truly civilized men.]

The Council mandate is obsolete in its wording. It is too vast and vague. It deserves to be more accurately formulated. There is a confusion of functions because the Council is asked to act as an executive body implementing decisions, as a judiciary in conflict resolution and as a supreme court of appeal in deciding conflicts between individuals or between individuals and working groups. We need to separate these functions because they have to be independent of each other and because they require people with different profiles and abilities. 12:05 PM]

[Maa Mati Manush 20 May 2011 ... We are humbled. We are thankful. This is a victory for 'Maa Mati Manush'. This will bring joy to Bengal. At this happy moment, let us remember the martyrs who have been part of this struggle for over 3 decades. We salute them." ~Mamata Banerjee.
The road to redemption does not lie in belittling our past, or in blindly imitating a vision and view of life that is alien to our temper and natural mode of being. The question then that we can pose ourselves is: what is it that precisely describes our uniqueness and captures the essence of our Indian-ness? It is that we do not consider our nation, our land of abode as dead matter. We consider it to be a living Being, we consider Her to be “Ma” (maa) - our beloved Mother. And we the people of that land are Her living children.]

[The puritanism of Marxists is intriguing: 22 May 2011 Swapan Dasgupta
Politburo member Brinda Karat has reminded those writing the CPM's obituary ...
In ordinary parlance, 'revisionism' involves the ability to think, re-think, fine-tune, question and even challenge existing beliefs and assumptions. It's because Galileo was a revisionist that the Flat Earth Society is close to extinction. Yet, 500 years ago, the fear of falling off the edge of the earth haunted explorers and even became a deterrent to commerce in some societies. 
To Communists, however, revisionism is about as abhorrent as 'popery' was to Anglicans in 17th century England. The analogy with the abstruse sectarianism that gripped Christian Europe after the Reformation is appropriate. For the fiercely God-fearing Puritans the good life meant rediscovering Biblical fundamentals. Right Angle]

[Social democracy, not communism : Politics : SA Aiyar : TOI Blogs 22 May 2011 SA Aiyar A post-election analysis by Brinda Karat shows how blind the CPM is to why...
This surely shows that the CPM’s future lies in converting itself to a social democratic party, junking its ideological commitment to Lenin, Stalin and Brezhnev. This is what Marxists in Eastern Europe did. Instead, the CPM condemns European Marxists for selling out. It cannot see that the constraints of Indian democracy have actually been a blessing that has given Marxists a better name in West Bengal than in Eastern Europe or the former USSR. The sooner it realizes this, the greater will be its chances of coming back to power.]

[larvalsubjects said on The Materialism of Onticology May 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm
What I’m proposing would require a completely reworking of Marxist thought because it would prohibit us from treating “relations to things as merely disguised relations between men.”. Things would no longer be vehicles for exclusively human dramas.
larvalsubjects said on The Materialism of Onticology May 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm
I see figures like Adorno as betrayals of Marx because they turn away from Marx’s materialism and return to idealism. What is it that Adorno is constantly analyzing? Ideology or cultural content. That is, alienated meanings and concepts projected on to the world. When Marx analyzes things like the factory or resources he remains in the orbit of materialism. What we saw with the Frankfurt school was the increasing retreat from anything pertaining to the material, instead focusing on “spirit” or the cultural alone. The world got reduced to a text to be read or deciphered, treating materiality as a mere carrier of human meanings.
larvalsubjects said on The Materialism of Onticology May 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm
Now as you pointed out in your initial post, Marx has some really stellar moments where he approaches what I’m talking about. Here I’m thinking particularly of his analysis of factories in Capital, where the factory takes on a life of its own with its own aims, introducing its own positive differences, forming us in a variety of ways, etc., in ways that can no longer simply be reduced to dynamics of value and capital. Value and capital play a role, but the factory contributes unique differences of its own.
An object-oriented Marxism would further develop these sorts of instances and similar ones you cite with respect to soil, attending to how things such as natural events (tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, epidemics of disease, climactic changes, etc), new technologies, ocean currents, availability of resources, animals, epidemics in animals, etc., play a key role in organizing social relations throughout history. Here we get a series of actors that can’t be simply reduced to dynamics of capital but which certainly get intertwined with capital in all sorts of ways. Insofar as the human alone isn’t the sole participant in these social assemblages the human can’t be treated as the sole explanatory ground of why societies take the form they take. This is a massive project that hasn’t scarcely been thought through. There are some pointers in Marx, but there are also a number of tendencies in Marx that work against this sort of anlaysis.
larvalsubjects said on The Materialism of Onticology May 21, 2011 at 11:25 pm
The implicit subtext of that is the thesis that it’s primarily ideology that holds societies together. I don’t believe that’s the case. Indeed, I believe that substantial changes can be made at the ideological level through debunking and social relations can remain essentially the same. Ideology is only a very small portion of the story.
larvalsubjects said on The Materialism of Onticology May 22, 2011 at 12:43 am
A good materialism, in my view, multiplies agencies and does not advocate a fetishistic anthropocentrism. A good deal of critical and cultural theory, in my view, does not live up to that despite calling itself materialist.]

A robust ontology or “a theory of the universe and of life,” as Albert Schweitzer worded it, eludes us still. Nevertheless, Mamata Banerjee’s interplay of Maa Mati Manush and Levi’s Onticology do not seem to be too dissimilar in this context, and now it is a fertile ground for growing varieties of reworked Marxist world-views. [TNM]  

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