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Identity politics

“In 1977, the term identity politics in its contemporary form was introduced into political discourse by the Comahee River Collective (CBC), a group of black lesbian militants that had formed in Boston … Black women, whose specific social position had been neglected by both the black liberation movement and the women’s liberation movement, could challenge … empty class reductionism simply by asserting their own autonomous politics. …

‘[But] we [The CBC] were not saying  that we didn’t care about anybody who wasn’t exactly like us … We understood that coalition building was crucial to our own survival.’ …

The history that followed seemed to turn the whole thing upside down. … The internal paradox of … foundationalism is that it presumes, fixes, and constraints the very ‘subjects’ that it hopes to represent and liberate. … I define identity politics as the neutralization of movements against racial oppression. …

Black nationalism … meant … black activists organizing themselves rather than following the lead of white organizations, building new institutions instead of seeking entry into white society. … [But this way black] elites were able to use racial solidarity as a means of covering up their class positions. … A situation in wich the white cop would be replaced by a black cop … was not liberation. …

Intellectuals and activists allowed politics to be reduced to the policing of our language, to the questionable satisfaction of provoking white guilt, while the institutional structures of racial and economic oppression persisted. …

The existence of this problem is widely recognized, but discussing it constructively has turned out to be quite difficult. Criticisms of identity politics are often voiced by white men who remain blissfully ignorant or apathetic about the experiences of others …  by coding demands that come from marginal or subordinate groups as identity politics, the white male identity is enshrined with the status of the neutral, general, and universal. …

In its contemporary ideological form … identity politics is an individualist method. It is based on the individual’s demand for recognition,and it takes that individual’s identity as starting point. It takes this identity for granted and suppresses the fact that all identities are socially constructed. And because all of us necessarily have an identity that is different from everyone else’s, it undermines the possibility of collective self-organization. …

Action against racial hierarchies can proceed more effectively when it has been purged of any lingering respect for the idea of ‘race’. … Single-issue political frameworks … end up centering the most priviledged members of a group, marginalizing those whose identities exposed them to other forms of subordination. …

[We see a generalization of] the condition of the plaintiff: equating political practice with the demand of restitution for an injury, inviting the construction of baroque and unnavigable intersections consisting of the litany of different identities to which a given person might belong. Those whose identity is inscribed with the most intersecting lines can claim the status of most injured, and are therefore awarded, in the juridical framework to which politics is now reduced. … [In  sum, where rights are demandes by a particular identity group … its members end up fixed as victims. … The possibility of self-directed mass action, ends up neutralized by a legal discourse] …

[Organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement] said that only black people should take the mic; that only black people should take leadership roles, that black people should be at the front of the march, with white ‘allies’ last and ‘brown’ people allowed in the middle. ‘Brown’ … refers to … the majority of our immigrant population … it is hard not to react with some confusion to the suggestion that they can only play a literally secondary role in movements that target the criminal justice system. …

[At the same time] the ‘representatives’ of the Black Lives Matter movement who got the most media play included the executive director of Saint Louis Teach for America, an organization that has played a driving role in the privatization of education and the assault on teachers’ unions. …

Identity politics … makes opposition impossible. …

[But where does it come from?] …

In the absence of mass organizing, racial ideology rushes to … fill the vacuum. … Oppressed groups have built complex traditions of politics, ethics, identity, and culture … Claiming and defending these traditions reinforces racial ideology but also provides a form of defense and protection. … When ideas of racial particularity are inverted in the defensive manner so that they provide sources of pride rather than shame and humiliation, they become difficult to relinquish. …

With the possibility of integrating social equality into American culture destroyed by both political repression and industrial decline, politics is reduced to the anxious performance of authenticity. …

The utter force of crisis and restructuring and the drastic rightward shift of American politics overwhelmed the fragmented left completely. … It is in fact in the decomposition and disorganization of the working class that we must seek an explanation for the rise of the right – not in consciousness, false or otherwise. …

To confront the white identity politics that make up the right-wing populism currenty occupying the White House, we need to provide alternative visions, languages, and practice – and responding with a contrary, pluralist identity politics has not been successful. …

What we lack is program, strategy, and tactics. If we set the consolidation of identity aside, that discussion can begin.”

aus: Asad Haider: Mistaken Identity. Race and Class in the Age of Trump. Brroklyn, NY: Verso 2018

10/19

22/10/2019 (11:06) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Activists

“‘The problem with politicians and political activists is that they are trapped in their own little bubbles.’ If there’s one complaint that defines our age, it’s the accusation that those involved in politics are too removed from ‘real’ people. The trouble is, when political activists show that they have the same concerns as everybody else, the complaint gets turned on its head. ‘But that’s not a real person, that’s a political activist.’

So it was with the confrontation last week between Boris Johnson and Omar Salem, the father of a sick child at Whipps Cross university hospital in London. Much of the debate about the confrontation has been less about Johnson or the state of the NHS than about Salem being a Labour party activist.

What if he is? Isn’t that a good thing? An expression of an activist facing the same problems as experienced by ‘ordinary’ people? Of an ‘ordinary’ person whose experiences are part of the reason he is an activist? Salem’s experiences are no less real, his anger is no less valid, because he is an activist. To insist that ‘ordinary’ people cannot be activists is to insist that people’s experiences and anger only matter when they suffer, but not when they challenge the problems they face or organise against them. …”

aus: Kenan Malik: Boris Johnson’s confrontation: don’t lose sight of the real story, The Guardian, 22.9.19, im Internet

09/19

23/09/2019 (8:31) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Anti-westernism

[NL]

“Many Asian intellectuals became some of the most eloquent – and earliest – critics of modernity. … With their anti-modern sensibility … they anticipated Europe‘s own thinkers, who were forced to re-examine their nineteenth-century belief in a progressively rational world by the slaughter of the First World War. … In fact, it was European principles of nationalism and civic patriotism that almost all native elites embraced in order to beat (or at least draw level with) the West in what seemed a Darwinian struggle for the future. …

Resistance to the West required [well] urgent adaptation to Western ideas of organizing state and society. … there was one Western idea in particular that proved irresitible to Muslim as well as Communist anti-imperialists …: the institutions and practices of the nation-state: clear boundaries, orderly government, a loyal bureaucracy, a code of rights to protect citizens, rapid economic growth through industrial capitalism or socialism, mass literacy programmes, technical knowledge and the development of a sense of common origins within a national community. … More than fifty new nation  with new names, borders and currencies appeared in just two decades after 1945. …

But the transition from criticizing foreign rule and instigating mass-movements to establishing a stable basis for self-determination proved to be very difficult. … The imported ideological passions of the Cold War aggravated political tensions in many countries, such as Pakistan and Indonesia. Separatist movements broke out in Kashmir, Aceh, East-Pakistan, Tibet and Sri Lanka. …

We can see that the seemingly wholesale adoption of Western ideologies (Chinese communism, Japanese imperialism) did not work. Attemps at syntheses (India’s parliamentary democracy, Muslim Turkey’s secular state, China’s state capitalism) were more successful, and violent rejections of the West in the form of Iran’s islamic Revolution and Islamist movements continue to have an afterlife.

Many new nations, such as Pakistan, never recovered from birthing traumas. … A year after the Arab Spring and the collapse of several pro-Western dictatorships, chaos and uncertainty may loom over a wide swathe of the Arab world for some years. But the spell of Western power has finally been broken. … The sense of humiliation that burdened several generations of Asians has greatly diminished. …

Yet this succes conceals with an immense intellectual failure, one that has profound ramifications for the world today and the near future. It is simply this: no convincingly universalist response exists today to Western ideas of politics and economy … Gandhi, their most rigourous critic, is a forgotten figure within India today. Marxism-Leninism lies discredited and … China‘s own legacy of ethical politics and socio-economic theory remains largely unexplored. …

The ‘Bejing Consensus’ has even less universal application than its Washington counterpart; it sounds suspiciously like merely a cynical economic argument for the lack of political freedom. …

The earliest Asian modern intellectuals were beholders to European ideas. … Europe itself took hundreds of years to develop and implement the concept of a sovereign nation-state, only to then plunge into two world wars that exacted a terrible toll from ethnic and religious minorities. …

Much of the ’emerging’ world now stands to repeat, on an ominously larger scale, the West’s own tortured and often tragic experience of modern ‘development‘. In India and China, the pursuit of economic growth a all costs has created a gaudy elite, but has also widened already alarming social and economic disparities … The privileged Chinese minority aspires to nothing higher than the conveniences and gadgets of their Western consumer counterparts … a third of Indians live in conditions of extreme poverty and deprivation. More than half of the children under the age of five in India are malnourished. …

The disasters … can no longer be explained away with reference to the logic of development as manifested in Europe’s history. … The hope, that fuels the pursuit of endless economic growth – that billions of consumers in India and China will one day enjoy the lifestile of Europeans and Americans – is as absurd and dangerous a fantasy as anything dreamt up by al-Quaeda. … It condems the global environment to early destruction, and looks set to create reservoirs of nihilistic rage and disappointment among hundreds of millions of have-nots – the bitter outcome of the universal triumph of Western modernity, which turns the revenge of the East into something darkly ambigous, and all its victories truly Pyrric.”

aus:Pankaj Mishra: From the ruins of Empire. London: Penguimn 2013 (Orig.-Ausg. 2012), S.302-310

04/18

25/09/2018 (22:44) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Brexit

“The rejection of the Chequers plan at Salzburg was no surprise .. The EU … knows it holds all the cards and recognises the danger of giving ground. Its priority is to accommodate Dublin, not London. It also concludes that a government so determined to leave must believe it can look after itself. Brussels has no reason or incentive to make any better offer.

The government has never understood the Brexit process and therefore has always botched it. It expects the EU to treat the UK both as an equally powerful third country, and as a member state still deserving the EU’s protection. It is neither.”

aus: Jonathan Lis: Don’t buy the Brexit hype: it’s a border in the Irish Sea or the customs union. The Guardian Online, 21.Sep.2018, im Internet

09/18

21/09/2018 (21:38) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Rousseauists

“Rousseau founded the main political and cultural movements of the modern world. Many ‘isms’ of the right and the leftRomanticism, socialism, authoritarianism, nationalism, anarchism – can be traced to Rousseau’s writings. Whether in his denunciation of moral corruption, his claim that the metropolis was a den of vice and that virtue resided in ordinary people (whom the elites routinely conspired against and deceived), his praise of militant patriotism, his distrust of intellectual technocracy, his advocacy of a return to the collective, the ‘people’, or his concern for the ‘stranger’, Rousseau anticipated the modern underdog wth his aggravated sense of victimhood and demand for redemption. …

Rousseau was … the prototype of the man who feels himself, despite his obvius success, to be at the bottom of the social pyramid. … He was convinced, like many converts to ideological causes and religious beliefs, that he was immune to corruption. A conviction of his incorruptibility was what gave his liberation from social pieties a heroic aura … In the movement from victimhood to moral supremacy, Rousseau enacted … [what] has become commonplace in our time. …

Rousseau’s first great disciple, Robespierre, seems to have grasped, and embodied, better than anyone the incendiary appeal of victimhood in societies built around the pursuit of wealth and power. …

The Jacobins and the German Romantics may have been Rousseau’s most famous disciples, determined to create through retributive terror or economic and cultural nationalism the moral community neglected by Enlightment philosophes. …: Herder inaugurated the nativist quest – hectically pursued by almost every nation since – for whatever could be identified as embodying an authentic national spirit: literary forms, cuisine and architecture as much as language. … Fichte came to think that Germans were simply superior to everyone else … [and he] gave nationalism its caracteristic secular feature: the transposition of religious into national loyalties. … Körner, [then, called the wars against Napoleon] ‘a crusade … a holy war’. This [was the first] ‘holy war’ in post-Christian Europe. …”

aus: Pankaj Mishra: Age of Anger, a History of the Present. o.O.: Allen Lane (Penguin Random House) 2017, S. 110-113, 174, 175, 191, 193.

05/18

29/05/2018 (12:12) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Development 2

“As Engels asserted … ‘Just as Darwin discovered the laws of development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history.’ Thus, development came to be infused wth fresh earnestness and world-historical urgency, and then exalted with the prestige of science. Mere being came to be degraded, thanks to Germany’s special experience, by becoming. As Nietzsche wrote caustically, ‘The German himself is not, he is becoming, he is developing. Development is thus the truly German discovery.’ … All the hopes, transmitted from Marxists to modernization theorists and free-marketeers, of ‘development emerge from nineteenth-century German thinkers: the first people to give a deep meaning and value to a process defined by continuous movement wth a fixed direction and no terminus. All our simple dualisms – progressive and reactionary, modern and anti-modern, rational and irrational – derive from the deeply internalized urge to move to the next stage of ‘development’, however nebulously defined.”

aus: Pankaj Mishra: Age of Anger, a History of the Present. O.O.: Allen Lane (Penguin Random House) 2017, S. 204-205.

05/18

29/05/2018 (11:36) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Islamism

“… Khomeini was actually a radically modern leader. For one, the cleric’s notion that the Iranian nation did not stem from any general or popular will but derived from God‘s mind, which as a charismatic leader he arrogated himself the right to interpret, was wholly novel: an extraordinary deviation, in fact, from a politically quietist Shiite tradition in which all government appeared illigitimate in the absence of the Twelfth Imam.

Khomeini belonged to a long line of revolutionary nationalists that began with Giuseppe Mazzini … Khomeini’s ideas were embedded in modern notions of representation and egalitarism. His notion of state power as a tool to produce a utopian Islamic society was borrowed from the Pakistani ideologue Abu Al-Ala Maududi, whose works he translated into Farsi in 1963. (Maududi’s vision of imposing Islamic order from above in turn was stimulated by Lenin’s theory of an elite as vanguard of the revolution.) …

With its many affronts to dignity and freedom, the Revolution was in this respect like the many self-defeating projects of human liberation since Rousseau started to outline them in the eighteenth century. … The Islamists … offered dignity – often a substitute for freedom in the postcolonial context …

Khomeini … grasped more clearly than modernizing-by-rote monarchs and despots the deeper and transformative potential of the idea brought into being by the Enlightement: that human beings can radically alter their social conditions. …

A religious or medieval society was one in which the social, political and economic order seemed unchangeable. …  The idea that suffering could be relieved, and happiness engineerd, by men radically changing the social order belongs to the eighteenth century. …

The idea of a perfectible society … turned into a faith in top-down modernization; and transformed traditional ways of life and modes of belief – Buddhism as well as Islam – into modern activist ideologies. …

Meanwhile, the religious impulse had not simply disappeared in Europe … Europeans simply had erected new abolutes – progress, humanity, the republic – to replace those of traditional religion and the monarchy. … The metaphysical and theological core of Christianity … was often found at the heart of modern projects of redemption and transcendence … Revolution or radical social transformation effected by individuals was increasingly seen as a kind of Second Coming; violence initiated the new beginning; and in the final approximation of Christian themes, history was expected to provide the final judgement … Nearly every major thinker in Europe … also transposed Christian providentialism into would-be rationalistic categories. …

Christian eschatology even suffuses the political ideals of today‘s insistently Islamic radicals and Hindu nationalists – an inescapable irony of history … The cross-currents of ideas and inspirations, … the varied ideological inspirations of Iran’s Islamic Revolution (Zionism, Existentialism, Bolshevism and revolutionary Shiism) – reveal the picture of a planet defined by civilizations closed off from one another and defined by religion (or lack thereof) is a puerile cartoon. …

Radical Islamists or Hindu nationalists insist on their cultural distinctiveness and moral superiority precisely because they have lost their religious traditions, and started to ressemble their supposed enemies in their pursuit of the latter’s ideologies of individual and collective succes …”

aus: Pankaj Mishra: Age of Anger, a History of the Present. O.O.: Allen Lane (Penguin Random House) 2017, S. 153-159.

05/18

28/05/2018 (23:40) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Responsabilisation

“… states took over the monopoly of legitimate violence, political power and therefore also responsibility. Delegating responsibility to civil society whilst maintaining power in the state and even in the economy therefore seems to be a process of taking away responsibility from those in power and giving responsibility to those without power, who would thus become responsible for their own underdevelopment …

If the goal is more or less imposed, and the different parties’ responsibilities take the form of being co-opted into a system that cannot be questioned, the transfer of responsibilities can be seen quite simply as a good excuse to … lessen the responsabilities of those who dominate the system. …

Bonnie Campbell makes clear ‘… that the notions of ’empowerment’ used by the World Bank in the 1980s and ‘participation’ in the 1990s do not arise from a concern for real participation but are connected rather with a concept of ‘populist manageralism’.'”

aus: Christoph Eberhard: Responsibility in France. A juridical approach in the face of the complexity of the world. In: Sizoo, Eidth (ed.): Responsibility and cultures of the world. Bruxelles u.a.: P.I.E. Peter Lang, S.126/127.

02/18

25/02/2018 (20:22) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Religiousnesses

“[There exist different] kinds of religious identities: the identity of the zealot, of the faithful, … of the religious ideologue …, religion as lived spirituality …, spiritless religiosity and religion as pastiche …

1. Religion as faith … is a form of love, trust, belief, or way of life. It can be monolithic or pluralistic, universalizing or particularizing, and divisive or integrative…

2. The ideologization of religion begins when the certainty of faith begins to totter. … the religious ideologue has already lost his religious identity or else he is in the process of losing it. His actions are guided more and more by desires, by economic or political interests. He may offer a religious explanation for everything he does but that reason is not causally efficacious. … [Nevertheless, he still] believes that high ideals inform his action. …

3.The zealot, on the other hand, is cynical, instrumentalist, and a political realist. … [He has accepted that the moment of faith, perhaps even of religious ideology, has passed. He is possibly aware that both are dead, buried, and at best, can be revived in an altogether different form. … He selects the eternal fundamentals of his religion by which his life and the life of all others will be guided in the future.] …

4.Spiritless religion [is] … a body of religious practices from which the original, living impulse has been wrenched … the body remains but the original spirit has evaporated …

5. From what I call religion as pastiche, both the original body and intent are gone and a very poor imitation of the original impulse inhabits an entirely new set of practices. … Unlike parody that has a latent understanding that something normal exists of which it is a comic imitation … pastiche is irrevocably delinked from it. It simply has no idea of what it is imitating. .. Pastiche … is the imitation of an imitation of religiosity, in a heavy, laboured form … Curiously, it is part of a general nostalgia of things past … Those with a penchant for pastiche religion … are on a trip of self-expression: people in search of a religious identity. …

6. Religion as lived spirituality … is distinct from both metaphysics and morality, from speculation and practice. … its essence is neither thinking nor acting but intuition and feeling … the intuition that the infinite accompanies the finite, the powerful but immediate feeling that the human world is not disconnected from the rest of the universe. … A person with such a religious identity is contemplative and tolerant. …

In so far as modernity is tied to industrialism and capitalism, they are liable to disrupt traditional faith, its plurality as well as its privileged, self-evident authority. … Trust, unconditional obligation, the voluntary surrender of choice, powerful emotions such as love that once turned belief into faith and conviction gradually give way to reason and doubt. In these changed circumstances, belief must be supported by evidence or argument and when neither is available, it must try to stand on its own. It is this wobbly self-reliance, however, that makes it belligerent, dogmatic, and doctrinal. Modernity often turns traditional faith into a set of doctrines. …”

aus: Rajeev Bhargava: Religious and secular identities. In: ders: What is Political Theory and why do we need it? New Delhi: Oxford, S.274-290.

10/17

15/10/2017 (17:44) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

7%

“Have you ever heard the adage that communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal, i.e. body language and vocal variety? You probably have, and if you have any sense at all, you have ignored it.

There are certain “truths” that are prima face false. And this is one of them. Asserting that what you say is the least important part of a speech insults not only the intelligence of your audience, but your own intelligence as well.

The whole objective of most speeches is to convey information, or to promote or defend a point of view. Certainly, proper vocal variety and body language can aid the process. But by their very nature, these ancillary activities can convey only emphasis or emotion.

The proof? Although today we presumably live in a visual world, most information is still promulgated in written form, where vocal variety and body language play no role. Even the “interactive” Internet is still mainly writing. The vast majority of people who surf the Internet do so looking for texts, with which they may interact via hyperlinks, but it is still essentially text.

Likewise with a speech. If your words are incapable of getting your message across, then no amount of gestures and tonal variations will do it for you. You are still obliged to carefully structure your information and look for “le mot juste” (the best words or phrases) to express what you want to say.

So just what does this “7% Rule” really mean?

The origin of this inimical adage is a misinterpretation, like the adage “the exception that proves the rule.” This is something else people say without examining it. If you believe that this is actually true, I will demonstrate at the end of this article that it isn’t. But first things first.

In the 1960s Professor Albert Mehrabian and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angles (UCLA), conducted studies into human communication patterns. When their results were published in professional journals in 1967, they were widely circulated across mass media in abbreviated form. Because the figures were so easy to remember, most people forgot about what they really meant. Hence, the myth that communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal was born. And we have been suffering from it ever since.

The fact is Professor Mehrabian’s research had nothing to do with giving speeches, because it was based on the information that could be conveyed in a single word.

Subjects were asked to listen to a recording of a woman’s voice saying the word “maybe” three different ways to convey liking, neutrality, and disliking. They were also shown photos of the woman’s face conveying the same three emotions. They were then asked to guess the emotions heard in the recorded voice, seen in the photos, and both together. The result? The subjects correctly identified the emotions 50 percent more often from the photos than from the voice.

In the second study, subjects were asked to listen to nine recorded words, three meant to convey liking (honey, dear, thanks), three to convey neutrality (maybe, really, oh), and three to convey disliking (don’t, brute, terrible). Each word was pronounced three different ways. When asked to guess the emotions being conveyed, it turned out that the subjects were more influenced by the tone of voice than by the words themselves.

Professor Mehrabian combined the statistical results of the two studies and came up with the now famous—and famously misused—rule that communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal. The non-verbal component was made up of body language (55 percent) and tone of voice (38 percent).

Actually, it is incorrect to call this a “rule,” being the result of only two studies. Scientists usually insist on many more corroborating studies before calling anything a rule.

More to the point, Professor Mehrabian’s conclusion was that for inconsistent or contradictory communications, body language and tonality may be more accurate indicators of meaning and emotions than the words themselves. However, he never intended the results to apply to normal conversation. And certainly not to speeches, which should never be inconsistent or contradictory!

So what can we learn from this research to help us become better speakers?

Basically, nothing. We must still rely on what good orators have always known. A speech that is confused and disorganized is a poor speech, no matter how well it is delivered. The essence of a good speech is what it says. This can be enhanced by vocal variety and appropriate gestures. But these are auxiliary, not primary.

Toastmasters International, a worldwide club dedicated to improving public speaking, devotes the first four chapters of its beginner’s manual to organizing the speech itself, including a chapter specifically on the importance of words in conveying meaning and feeling. Only in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 does it concern itself with body language and vocal variety.

I don’t know how to quantify the relative importance of verbal to non-verbal in delivering speeches. But I have no doubt that the verbal (what you actually say) must dominate by a wide margin.

One of the most famous speeches of all time is Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” Its 272 words continue to inspire 150 years after they were spoken. No one has the slightest idea of Lincoln’s movements or voice tones.”

aus: Philip Yaffe: The 7% rule: fact, fiction, or misunderstanding, Ubiquity Volume 2011, Number October (2011), Pages 1-5   DOI: 10.1145/2043155.2043156, im Internet

10/17

13/10/2017 (9:50) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::
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