Archive for August, 2013

Maybe we try not bombing Syria?

August 27, 2013 Leave a comment

There is just too much deja vu about this Syria bombing scenario with respect to Iraq. Some Countries make unilateral decision that government responsible for attack. Some countries decide bombing the shit out of the country is the only course of action. Some countries have made up their minds regardless of what happens. Takes me back to the Iraq war. What if anything can Bashar do to stop this from happening. It’s an ultimatum without any possible action to divert this course of action. It’s pretty much, we made up our minds, there is nothing you can do about it. Reminds me of all the good feminist theory on the masculinity of war and IR. No option but to bomb is just absurd. Concept of power that is archaic. How is this even helping?

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Inanna’s take on French scholars and abstruseness

August 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Initiated by:

LOL. Nonsense. Foucault’s prose is beautiful in French and has a unique musicality that clarifies his thought-process, his method, as well as his thoughts. I’d say that the problem with Foucault is that he writes in a sometimes deceiving way, like a magician who hides his tricks (and avoids spelling out specific ‘relations’ or ‘meanings’, and this was picked up by his peers from the very beginning, when he defended his doctoral thesis). If Derrida is ‘obscure’ or ‘incomprehensible’, it’s only to the extent that, and precisely because, the language available to him is insufficient and inappropriate to do what he’s doing, which is recover the meanings that language necessarily hides – ‘clarity’ in this sense would be self-defeating (and I think, ultimately, the influence of Judaism on him is very important to understand his posture and his relation to language – you can intuitively understand that because of the common nature of, and relation to, ‘texts’ in the Islamic and Sufi part of our heritage). As for Bourdieu, he has the characteristic ‘clarity’ of the French sociological tradition since Comte and Durkheim, and his language is wonderfully precise and hence ‘clear’ and adequate to convey exactly what he wants to say (to me, Bourdieu’s language is like exactly like Bach’s music: I wouldn’t remove or add a word to it!). The problem for a non-French speaker is that it is grounded in the etymological universe of the French language, which allows him to play with the symmetries and oppositions within families of nouns and verbs in a way that cannot be translated exactly into English, because the latter is less consistent etymologically. So the most expressive of Bourdieu’s ‘formulas’ lose clarity as well as eloquence and beauty in English translations. And he also spoke in EXACTLY the same way as he wrote, so I have no idea what Searle is talking about here. Besides, how much ‘clarity’ do you need to understand that Bourdieu is not a ‘philosopher’! The irony is that the popular expression Searle refers to in the video/audio: ‘ce qui n’est pas clair n’est pas fran├žais’, originates in a quite nationalist/chauvinist perception of the uniqueness and rigour of the French language as opposed to others. The full citation is: ‘Ce qui n’est pas clair n’est pas fran├žais; ce qui n’est pas clair est encore anglais, grec, ou latin’ (de Rivarol, 18th century philologist I think). And I suspect Searle is simply expecting French ‘philosophers’ to conform with that folk myth called ‘French cartesianism’ where language follows the linearity of logical-mathematical expressiveness. Also, I find the way he mentions Foucault’s personal views on Derrida very cheap and inappropriate, and it doesn’t reflect the nature of their relationship and mutual respect despite their differences and disagreements.

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Role of Foreign Intervention (again)

August 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Once again I am faced by the importance of foreign intervention on local events. I was talking with Ali from ECPR about Lebanon and the contrast between 1960s and today. Mentioned sense of fatalism. He thought that without regional intervention by the major powers, especially USSR, the war wouldn’t have gone as far as it did. This was mainly due to the weapon and finance supply. It’s an interesting effort to try to quantify or delineate the importance of foreign intervention. First is the fact that Lebanon always had sectarianism but only had a war in 1976 (well previous skirmishes also). Then that Syria has always been an authoritarian regime, but that now the opening opportunity taken by Qatar and Saudi allowed the protests to turn into a civil war. Third example is Turkey’s change on the Syria policy which Ali says is a result of the Gazi protests in which the Russians mobilized the left in the country to come out to support the protests. The Russian,Turkish connection here is interesting as it shows that almost any country can have its internal politics exploited if given the chance. Any country except the US ofcourse. Interesting that no one give the US shit or interferes by funding democrats or republicans. Maybe the Arabs should join into American politics and throw their money around … In any case the role of media, ideology, social movements are all perhaps potential sparks, but then the opportunity is pried open by international powers to pursue and further their interests. I’m sure some scholars would object and say this wouldn’t explain behavior, we have to look at motivating ideas, but I also think we cannot deny that this is the experience in our part of the world. It might be the privilege of empire not to have its internal affairs messed with. The puzzle for other countries is how to direct protest and reform without inviting foreign intervention that can lead to internal conflict. Perhaps this is not possible. It’s surprising that no one came out supporting the OWS in the US.

But again the point here is that I do not want to forget this important lebanese insight of the role of foreign intervention when all around me people are talking about ideas, social networking, dictatorship etc…

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