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al rasel on Fri, 25 Aug 2006 17:03:30 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The Symposium of Philosophy or the Philosophy of Symposium: Ethics and Politics in Society of the Spectacle

The Symposium of Philosophy or the Philosophy of
Symposium: Ethics and Politics in Society of the

Alkiviadis Rasel
alrasel {AT} yahoo.co.uk

-- I --

In a world torn apart by poverty and war, is there any
reason why one should be the least interested in the
philosophical interplay between ethics and politics?
Put otherwise: in a world that is, by most people's
standards, unethical, is there any room left for an
authentic engagement in what constitutes, or should
constitute, an ethical approach toward the
continuation of democratic public discourse? 

This is precisely the question that the 1st
International Philosophical Symposium[1], which took
place in Heraklion-Crete, Greece, was confronted with.
A very eclectic group of speakers was lined up, from
linguist turned superstar agitator Noam Chomsky to
Alex Callinicos, leader of the english communist
party, to speculate and reflect on the role of ethics
in contemporary politics. The philosophers' symposium,
orchestrated by the Municipality of Heraklion, was
purportedly aimed at igniting a social dialogue
pertaining to burning issues facing society today.
Oddly enough, the symposium boasted its social
relevance, rather than its academico-theoretical
odour. Mere hours before the inaugural speech by
Giannis Kourakis, Mayor of Heraklion, Panajiotis
Georgoudis, charged with interfacing with the press,
made it crystal clear to me: ?the symposium is not to
be taken lightly for a critique of everyday life is to
be enunciated during its activities?. This approach
toward philosophy, which is rarely if ever encountered
in contemporary greek academia, both excited and
surprised me. At last, I thought, a philosophical
inquiry toward the truth that connects to the mundane
realities of our everyday life. For someone galvanised
in the theory of practice, this approach, I have to
admit, was a teaser I could not resist. Having kept
that firmly in mind, I contemplated the next day with

In this state of mind, I woke up in the morning of the
24th of May, lit a cigarette, smiled as the first rays
of morning light softly caressed my forehead, and
filled out into the grey streets looking for what
seems to be lost in contemporary philosophy, namely
the sense of excitement and hope that once inhabited
the hearts of brave men who sought to transform the
world, rather than merely describe it. I arrived at
the site of the symposium around nine, which, by that
time, was crowded. That is a good sign, I thought to
myself; shows that actual people's concern has not
evaporated into thin air. Of course, that was to be
anticipated as the first speaker after the Mayor of
Heraklion and the President of the Organisation Team
was Noam Chomsky. And Chomsky, as was also expected,
was lavish with his fulmination against the new world
order: current US policy forces the globe to a
historical standstill, he offered, and went on to
proclaim that unless we ordinary people stand up and
cry out for justice, freedom, ethos, and equality, all
is in jeopardy of spiralling further down into a
miserable state of moral bankruptsy and collective
hopelessness. But as I said, Chomsky, his good
intentions and literary wit notwithstanding, is, above
and beyond all things, a predictable speaker:
understandably, which path we should follow to express
this discontent and frustration, that is, whether we
should filter our voice through professional
politicians and entrenched decision-making channels,
or destroy affirmatively everything within reach like
a new race of barbarians in order to create  anew is a
discussion that he, as expected, chose to delegate
promiscuously to other less prominent speakers.

Yet, a distressing surpsise soon followed. No sooner
had Chomsky finished his speech and stepped down than
most attendees started leaving. When the image that
mediates social relations disappears from view, the
spectacle cannot re-constitute itself, but the void
remains[2]. The auditorium, which mere minutes ago was
bursting with life, resumed back to its typical
tranquil rhythme. Perhaps everybody flocked to the
beach, I thought, for this is the only logical
explanation I could come up with. Partly satisfied
with this explanation, I decided to drive down to the
beach, mesmerised by the expectation of a promising
cool breeze. There, I ran into  D., whom I had met a
while ago at the symposium. After exchanging a few
casual remarks about such things as the constant and
methodical expansion of the city of Heraklion that now
stretches far into what was once touted as the epitome
of the cretan wilderness, and the corresponding
urbanisation-cementing of the landscape, he told me he
came to the symposium in pursuit of stimulating
conversations with interesting people as his everyday
life is a far cry from anything even remotely
considered as interesting or exciting. I concurred,
mutterring ?on a long enough timeline, everyone's
survival rate drops to zero?[3]. And, unfortunately,
he added, this process is dramatically accelerated by
the eclipse of excitement in shared lived experience.
Paradoxically, this frustration was also echoed in the
speeches. In his speech, Political disaffection as an
outcome of institutional practices? Some
post-Tocquevillean speculations, which took place on
May 27th, Claus Offe expressed his frustration with
the current state of disaffection in politics. This
apathy, Offe argued, is symptomatic of the victory of
the neoliberal agenda over any other alternative frame
of governance. Politics was exciting and vibrant when
the critical political question still revolved around
the bipolar opposition between capitalism and
communism. However, the underlying desiring machines
that were hard-coded in that bygone battle of ideas
dissipated as the passionate ideological battle that
fed on the Cold War receded into the background. Its
immediate effects aside, one more subtle consequence
of the demise of the Soviet Union would be to
henceforth bring discredit on any attempt to
articulate an alternative to the end of history that
is encapsulated in the neoliberal perspective. The
growing de-politicisation and disinterestedness of the
body politic, as manifest in the high abstention in
the elections, attested (and continues to attest) to
the contraction of space for the articulation of
radical alternatives. The disappearance of excitement
that Offe locates in the mainstream political
discourse and process is connected to the
disappearance of excitement in shared lived experience
in a profound way: the pursuit of excitement migrated
from the realm of mainstream politics to the market,
for only the market seemed to provide a social space
wherein choices about alternatives could be made. In
short, everyone was now on the market for a paid-for
lifestyle, for all hopes for excitement were reposed
in the market. In the continuum of a wicked
metaphysics of political economy, the citizen
transmogrified into the consumer, the excessive forces
of consumption were recognised as at least equal if
not superior to the economical forces of production,
and the commodity became the de facto image through
which society understood itself.   

As life turns into a race for the latest upgrade, and
communication is no longer feasible outside of basic
banalities, relationships, that is, the only thing
that gives actual meaning to the space of one's life
has been re-packaged as a commodity worth spending a
lifetime slaving away in order to buy. Karl Marx's
speculation that in due time even that which is
reckoned to be non-exchangeable and inalienable (that
which people share and communicate but do not
exchange) ? such as virtue, love, conviction,
knowledge, conscience ? would pass into the sphere of
commerce has come full circle[4]. The consumer
expectation though that all these great ?things? can
be acquired at a price is a chimaira, for in reality
these ?things? can be neither purchased nor exchanged;
only the expectation can. Take, for example, real
unconditional love. Nowadays, love has become equally
inaccessible for both poor and rich. But there is a
critical difference between the two: the latter expect
that the inaccessible will become accessible if they
keep throwing more money into the market for sign
values, whereas the former expect that the
inaccessible will become accessible when they finally
find the money required to procure the much-coveted
sign values on the market. And as with all great
satires and tragedies that life plays on men, both
rich and poor subscribe myopically to hubris: inasmuch
as the guest for love is concerned, the rich envy the
poor because the poor, reckon the rich, are still
capable of loving and of being loved truly, since,
according to the rich, money does not interfere with
their relationships, at least not to the extent that
it does among the rich. The rich says: ?A poor man can
take his girlfriend for a promenade, offer her a
flower he cut on his way to meeting her, tell her that
the beauty of the stars and the moon is reflected in
her eyes, and she will love him eternally. And all
that with no need to spend a single penny. Whereas I
would have to keep buying her incredibly expensive
things, and take her to posh restaurants to make her
love me, for I am a rich man and this is how a rich
man is expected to treat a woman?. Similarly blind and
deaf, the poor envy the rich for they reckon that
love, inextricably linked to the imperatives of
material cutlure as it is, cannot be accessed in the
absence of money, and thus love is accessible only for
the moneyed. Says the poor: ?I have no money and that
is why no woman would even consider loving me. If I
were rich, and thus able to take a woman out for
dinner at fancy restaurants, and give her nice
expensive gifts, then I would definitely find love?.
But the operationalisation of the logic of the
spectacle does not stop at the delusive twilight of
ornamented confusion, for there is absolutely no limit
to the leverage of the spectacle[5]. 

In parallel with extracting as much surplus value as
it can from this socially unfolding staged satire, on
a regular footing the spectacular apparatuses of
capture ? commonly referred to by the servants of the
spectacle as marketing strategies or tactics - infuse
a fashion[6] into the consumer market(s). Whether this
tactic is employed for the sake of profit, or merely
in order to weave a more resilient web of perplexity
atop the one which is already in place is hardly a
question worth pondering. Confusion ? consumption ?
disorientation ? consumption ? diversion ?
self-consumption ? nullification ? boredom ? apathy ?
atrophy ? paralysis ? self-consumption ? hypnosis ?
castration ? consumption ? dehumanisation ? submission
- automation: this is how the spectacle gradually
proceeds in processing natural law and shared lived
experience,  ultimately causing human existence to
degenerate down to the level of the separated
automaton, of a humanoid guided by the imperatives of
the natural law of perversion, linked mechanically to
other cellular automata in the grand assembly line of
the production of repressive numbness. For the purpose
of elucidation, consider the following example: six
months ago, I run into an old girlfriend who has been
working at the greek fashion industry for eight years,
first as a model, and now as a public relations
manager. Anyhow, I asked her if she is dating anyone
these days, to which she replied negatively. Given how
attractive she is, and thus finding this hard to
believe, I asked her why. She told me she works long
hours to begin with, and besides ?nobody fucks
anymore?. ?It is no longer fashionable?. I thought she
was joking, but she was not[7]. I told her I
stubboringly remain an old-fashioned kind of guy and
kissed her goodbuy. Stunned as I was by what she told
me, I could not stop thinking about what this fashion
of anorgasmia and abstinence meant. Under certain
circumstances, an apathetic person can be more easily
controlled and efficiently manipulated than one
charged with sexual desire, or any other intense and
compulsive feeling for that matter. Further, as the
human entity is discharged from its inherent
eroticism, and thus is increasingly more removed from
natural law, the project of work is no longer
threatened by sexuality and eros, and the stage is set
for the cessation of the historical distinction
between dead-time (work) and free-time (play), which,
in turn, extends the dominion of the totalising logic
of the factory to the totality of lived time. As the
diffusion of the factory stretches far beyond the
business enterprise and waged labour to encompass the
whole of society, the concept of full-employment (as
well as productivity and performativity) takes on a
whole new meaning. Now, subjects, in order to maintain
the uninterrupted production of the spectacle (that
is, in order to be ?productive? for post-industrial
capitalism), turn to the consumption of sign values,
for they hope they will at last rediscover some sense
of excitement there. But the excitement that emanates
from the consumption of commodities is short-lived,
and never leads to a lasting state of satiety. And the
vicious circle of consumption goes on. From the
perspective of Capital, it is now far more
?productive? to consume than to produce. The bottom
line is that everything now seems boring and everyone
bored. Without excitement, there is nothing. Not even
hope, for hope by definition contemplates from the
present an infinitely more exciting future. There is
no future where excitement does not exist.            
Perhaps it is just me craving for a quick fix, a
shallow fuck. But I refuse to accept this explanation,
one so commonly invoked by the high priests of our
decadent technocratic culture, phychologists. In a
society that cannot ejaculate its desires into the
social field, and thus accummulates desire after
desire, and need after need, for need and desire are
one and the same thing, deep inside the oblivion of
its collective subconscious to the point where it
becomes irrational and schizophrenic, the isolated
individual is hallucinating if he thinks the problem
lies with him exclusively. ?The only indication of
health is our confirmed madness?[8]. Abstinence and
moderacy are no longer virtues possessed by
charismatic men, as was reckoned in ancient Greece; in
an anorexic and anorgasmic society, they are essential
to ensure the passivity-pacification that conditions
the totality of social expressions. If the collective
sperm of society is too weak to impregnate new
situations, why should yours? Bluntly put, we are way
too fucked by progress and practical reason (or fucked
up) to want to fuck. Our repressed desire is the
desire of repression. Beyond the shadow of doubt, the
subject of late capitalism is the schizo. But this
schizo, though short-circuited by desire[9], is
stupefied: a caricaturesque pathetic ailing old
creature with a languid voice, blank eyes and shaky
hands that lacks the ecstatic forcefulness and
feverish drive encountered in contagiously erotic,
scandalous, and exuberant nocturnal stalkers and
predators, whose most powerful expression takes the
shape of the vampire. 

The (power of the attractiveness of the) vampire, we
should not forget, has always posed a threat to all
historical models of class society which are founded
on the imaginary of the necessity of forced labour and
hierarchical organisation, and the corresponding
repression of human instincts that the principle of
performativity, which governs the sphere of alienated
labour, implies. The reason for this is twofold:
Whatever it is that vampires do cannot be classified
as work. And most crucially the fulfilment of instinct
is pivotal in their existence. Due to these two
defining traits,  the vampire dismantles and exposes
the poverty of the image of a pacified human existence
that expresses nothing but its desire to be put to
sleep after a long and strenuous day of labour. One
could also easily identify other subversive forces in
the function of the vampire. Indicatively, Negri and
Hardt argue that ?the vampire undermines the
reproductive order of the family with its own,
alternative mechanism of reproduction?.[10] But as
Negri and Hardt also recognise, ?the threat of the
vampire is, first of all, its excessive sexuality. Its
desire for flesh is insatiable, and its erotic bite
strikes men and women equally, undermining the order
of heterosexual coupling?.[11] For the vampire, the
desire for flesh is synonymous to the desire of flesh,
for their flesh needs flesh. It is not a question of
vulgar gluttony. For the vampire to preserve its
physical hypostasis, flesh must be continuously mixed
with flesh. And the immanent desire of flesh precedes
and trascends the historical class desire. This is
where the real subversiveness of the vampire rests: in
reminding a monstrous world that we all are primarily
flesh, and if we forget this fundamental truth, and
forgo the desire of flesh for flesh, the vampire will
be there waiting in the shadows to make us remember
that what we have forgotten remains nonetheless the
single most important thing in our lives. The
distinction in common sense between desire and need is
entirely devoid of meaning when applied to such
lustful and hedonistic creatures. What vampires desire
is what vampires need, and reversely. For this reason,
and not only because it reflects the real monstrosity
of society, the vampire is an agent of emancipation.
?For us, marginally, need can be satisfied without
desire, but desire never can without need?[12]. The
revolutionary project today depends on the
reconciliation of the historical tension between
desire and need, on their becoming one. When desire
and need are finally unified by consciousness, the
revolutionary problem will cease to exist, for the
redefinition of the concepts of progress and freedom
will no longer demand the sacrifice of pleasure and
the repression of desire in the name of necessity.   

Not much else to say about the
symposium-as-conference. Only what is exciting should
be remembered. Andr? Breton was right in reproaching
Dostoevski for taking us into a room whose description
fails to elude the specter of the banal and the
boring. ?When one ceases to feel, I am of the opinion
one should keep quiet. I am only saying that I do not
take particular note of the empty moments of my life,
that it may be unworthy for any man to crystallize
those which seem to him to be so. I shall, with your
permission, ignore the description of that room, and
many more like it?[13]. With one exception perhaps.
Alex Callinicos's speech on the 27th, entitled
Critical Theory confronted with a global state of
exception, stood out in one major respect: it was
downright disappointing to see the theoretical motor
of the english communists be so passionate about such
platitude. Callinicos[14] emphatically stated at the
very start of his speech that he would not go into
metaphysics, as any self-respecting dyed-in-the-wool
materialist would proudly proclaim...A statement that
he repeated a time too many during his speech, which,
disappointingly, was exclusively centred on attacking
? and not very successfully, I have to say ? the
ontology advanced by Toni Negri and a similarly
useless, convoluted, and utterly metaphysical tenet of
Bourdieu. In retrospect, the frustratingly short
duration of all talks and presentations severely
impaired any effort by the speakers to either
elaborate or delve deep into the subjects that formed
the epicentre of discussion. On the other hand,
empirically speaking, this deficiency of the
organisational format is often blunted by the presence
of critical and engaging informal conversations taking
place in the periphery of the formal event, in places
like the smokers' corner or the vending machine.
Indeed, the passionate exchange of viewpoints and the
heated debate that several informal ?round-tables?
stirred, counter-balanced, to a certain extent, the
superficial gaze offered by the majority of formal
presentations, partially ameliorating the situation. A
notable characteristic that differentiated those
chaotic round-tables was their proximity to the point
of rupture that is everyday life: seen from the prism
of everyday life, all theses advanced in these
accidental forums were scrutinised according to how
readily applicable to everyday life they were
perceived to be; submitted to thorough questioning
regarding the feasibility of the implementation of a
new model atop an old derelict one, the
translatability of a theory into a coherent social

--- II ---      

Ethics and politics are more than words; they are
perspectives. And perspectives are empowered by
people; given meaning by the concrete social practices
of the masses as manifest in the tainted, yet still
potent, abode of the real; inscribed in the desiring
machines traversing frenetically the impoverished
terrain of social production. In some twisted fashion,
we are now facing much the same situation that the
Utilitarians faced in the past: they tried to shed
light on the relationship between ethics and law; we
try to substantiate and re-formulate politics on an
ethical foundation. However, despite any good
intentions bathed in euphoria and hope that one starts
this enterprise with, as with the utilitarians, we
also find ourselves in the unfortunate position, if we
seek to see the situation in its real dimensions, to
have to admit that politics does not need to be
ethical in order to be politics, that is, in order to
be operational. On this plane, three potentialities
forcibly assert themselves: ethics and politics
coincide, therefore politics is congruent with
society's moral postulates; ethics and politics are
reckoned to be distinct, separate spheres linked
together solely by means of philosophical inquiry and
spectacular ?public relations? interfaces; or ethics
and politics collide in which case the institution of
the imaginary is set into motion to unsurp collective
subjectivity by indoctrinating the masses into
believing that real-world politics is grounded on what
society ostensibly deems ethical. 

Unfortunately, at this point philosophical inquiry
comes to an end. Even though politics, in the hands
and mouths of political zealots and academic
opportunists, claims its being inextricably linked to
the moral basis of society, fact of the matter is that
it is not. While ethics does not need spectacular
politics to acquire hypostasis and meaning ? for
ethics invariably spills over into the political by
the affirmative practices of the masses in the social
field - spectacular politics, by stark contrast, needs
to work behind the veil of morality; needs to justify
its articulations, and, hence, its form, on ethical
propositions. Otherwise put: ?all that politics asks
of us is to receive it as moral or to oppose it in the
name of morality. Because these are the same, which
can be thought of in another way: formerly one worked
to dissimulate scandal ? today one works to conceal
that there is none?[15]. Dominant politics, at least
in the form that prevails today, can be nothing but
the politics of domination. And reversely: politics,
by necessity, will remain separated from ethics for as
long as the ethos of politics is separation. Yet,
separation is experienced at many different levels, of
different magnitude. This can be explained by the fact
that even though the constituent components of
classes, and thus of power, have undergone dramatic
transformations, spectacular society is still a
society founded on the separation of classes. The
spectacle integrates the separate, but integrates it
as separate[16].

For the ruling class, politics, as well as ethics, is
primarily aesthetical, that is, spectacular, for it
apprehends ethics as the result of aesthetics. The
ruling class, having its interests so zealously served
and protected by professional politics, finds no
reason whatsoever to cast a sceptical doubt upon the
logical underpinnings of dominant political rhetoric
and process, to regard it as anything but ethical. But
?there is no rational belief in power. There is
submission and, from the side of those who possess
power, desire to preserve it?[17]. Dialectical
materialism has taught us this lesson well: human
conscioussness is conditioned by materiality. Since
the ruling class benefits from spectacular politics,
it follows then that spectacular politics is ethical.
But as politics is reduced to a televised contest
between images radiant with success, determination,
sentiment and concern, in which the candidate having
the whitest teeth wins, the ethical shell of politics
mutates into a repugnant aesthetical value: Kant's
conclusion that what is ethical has to be beautiful
too is turned to its head; now, what is (masqueraded
as) beautiful has to be ethical also. Hence, the
presidential candidate with the prettiest teeth has to
be the most ethical as well. This obsession is
epitomised in the ?Mystic Box?: ?Throw switch 'on.'
Box rumbles and quivers. Lid slowly rises, a hand
emerges and pushes switch off. Hand disappears as lid
slams shut. Does absolutely nothing but switch off!?
The nihilism of modern politics is merely an
introduction to the politics of modern nihilism[18];
it is the field of convergence between aesthetics and
ethics where the lightness of the modern poltics of
separation becomes truly unbearable. The real problem
with this conception of aesthetics does not consist in
the implied underlying notion that ethics has to pass
through the transitional phase of the aesthetical
state in order to become conscious. Unlike Friedrich
Schiller or Herbert Marcuse, both of whom recognised a
latent, yet potent, ethical value in the aesthetic
dimension[19], the striking success of the Spectacle
rests on identifying an ethical value not in the
aesthetic dimension per se, but in the aesthetic
dimension of the perspective of power. And this is
crucial. For if ?the object of power is power?[20],
then it follows that an ethical value emanating from
the aesthetic dimension of the perspective of power
can only be constituted insofar as it invests power
with an apparent edifying mantle, insofar as it
assigns the value that it itself desires to its own
Self. Alternatively, this can be more acutely
visualised as a perpetual cyclical movement whose
object can only be the affirmation of itself through a
concurrent self-referential movement. Says the
Spectacle: ?what is good appears. What appears is
good?[21]. In other words, it says nothing at all,
except perhaps from concealing and denying the
fundamental fact that its alleged ethos has
operational value only insofar as it is pure
aesthetics, pure abstract form with no content. And
this is precisely the value that the Spectacle has
discovered and mobilised: the value of nothingness,
the irresistible seduction of emptiness, a suffocating
integrated collection of spectacles that promise to
lead the spectator somewhere else, away from the
desert of signs that reproduce the factory in

For the bourgeoisie, politics and ethics are not only
separated, but in dire straits. Frustratingly, the
bourgoisie, despite the clear understanding of the
situation that it collectively possess, that is, its
apprehension of the truth, has still to re-discover
its radical subjectivity. For the bourgoisie, due to
the limitations emanating from its assimilation, is
only capable of articulating a critique of the
spectacle that is in itself spectacular, or purely
contained in a spectacular carrier. The quintessential
example of the former is TV programming that critiques
the role and function of television. As for the
latter, the activism of groups like Greenpeace who
resort to spectacular violence is paradigmatic. By
spectacular violence what I mean here is that their
actions can only have an effect if mediated by images
offered by the mass media, a fact well known to
activists. Despite this obvious shortcoming, which is
immanent in the dependence upon a spectacular
medium-host, a critique that expresses a real demand,
fueled by a desiring machine that is strong enough,
can have a progressive effect in a society plunged in
pure simulacrum. This is known for a long time:
practices such as detournement, culture jamming, and
even hacking have long recognised this possibility for
expropriation and subversion, and envisaged the power
of the reversal of perspective that occurs when one
armed with marginal resources appropriates the enemy's
weapons and puts them into a different use, often in
ways diametrically opposed to the ones originally
intended by its creators. But this is not  because
only a staged critique can be effective in a society
where everything is staged. Such a syllogism is
nonsensical. That, say, a staged bank robbery can have
the same end-result with a real robbery, that is, the
robber getting killed, should not be interpreted as to
mean that spectacular violence is the most effective
form of violence or equally effective to other forms
of violence. What essentially determines the actual
effectiveness of spectacular violence is the extent to
which the masses experience and adopt the end that
incites and employs violence as a means, as their own.

For the materialist, politics and ethics are connected
in a dialectical condition. In spectacular society,
politics starts where ethics dies. The dialectical
materialist is thus given two options: either work on
reforming the political process from within
institutional structures, or fight for the emergence
of a new ethos on the outside of the
industrial-political complex. Only by fostering and
nurturing this ethos of participation and
re-appropriation could we really hope for a new
politics to emerge. By following the opposite
direction, by channeling our energies and actions
toward rehabilitating poltics we can only hope for a
long and boring death. But without excitement, there
is nothing. Besides, history is quick to point out the
blatant failure of the regime of ?really existing
socialism? in catapulting society to emancipation
through a project of transitional politico-historical
sabotage. On the contrary, by fighting for the primacy
of ethics one realises the impotence of politics and
lays the foundations for the rebirth of the body
politic in a society that is no longer afraid to get
excited, no longer tranformed by the economy into a
society that economises on its own life, a society
that does not seek to be intelligible but emancipated.
In a nutshell: the time has come for us to stop
moralising politics and start politicising morals. For
it is there that the potentialities for rupture, for a
radical break with the present, are present. 

[1]URI: http://www.philosophycrete.edu.gr 
[2]And as the weight of the void becomes unbearable, a
new image is sought in order to give the appearance
that social relations, that is, unmediated social
relations are still possible. Then the spectacle
re-constitutes  itself.
[3]C. Palahniuk. Fight Club, Vintage, 2003 (1996).
[4]K. Marx. The Poverty of Philosophy. Translated by
the Institute of Marxism Leninsim, Progress
Publishers, 1955, accessible online at
[5]A socially constructed system of values and beliefs
can be neither less nor more irrational in comparison
to another similar-in-scope system, for there are no
different scales or degrees of irrationality.
[6]Fashion can be defined as a usually ephemeral
format and code of behaviour, promoted and dictated by
the spectacular-industrial complex, which is
identified with a certain set of sign values, and,
hence, becomes operational with the purchase and
social display of these commodified sign values .  
[7]As a matter of fact, what she told me is confirmed
by the archetypes promoted and projected by the
fashion industry; riffle through any fashion magazine
and all you see is anorexic images of boys and girls
deprived of their sexuality (and thus of their gender)
portraying as role models for teenagers.
[8]Quote taken from Ka?a?p?????, ?ssue 2, February
2006. Ka?a?p????? is an independent publication by the
Rosa Nera Squat (Chania, Greece) which was distributed
as a samizdat during the symposium. Translated from
greek by the author.
[9]Strictly speaking, the subject of late capitalism ?
the schizo - is produced in the first instance by
desire. The definitive text on ?schizophrenia as the
process of the production of desire? and ?the product
of the capitalist machine? is G. Deleuze and F.
Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia,
translated by R. Huxley, M. Seem and H.R. Lane,
Continuum, 2004 (1972).
[10]M. Hardt and A. Negri. Multitude, War and
Democracy in the Age of the Empire, Penguin: N.Y.,
2004, p.193.
[12]A. Jorn. Speech to Penguins, in ?? ??s??t??? ?a?
t? ????t???, translated by ?. ?sa?a??a? and ?.?.
??e????, ??e??e??? ??p??: A???a, 1996, translated from
greek by the author. 
[13]A. Breton. Manifesto of Surrealism, 1924,
accessible online at

[14]Callinicos, it should be noted, prove himself to
be a far more charismatic and capable speaker than
most of the invited speakers, as he did not need to
read his speech aloud like most others did, and this
contributed to his coming across as concerned and
[15]I am here paraphrasing J. Baudrllard. Simulacra
and Simulation, translated by S.F. Glaser, University
of Michigan Press, 1994, p.15. 
[16]G. Debord. Society of the Spectacle. #29.
[17]Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving, in A??p?,
translated by E. G?a??????, ??d?se?? ?p?????????:
A???a, 1974, translated from greek by the author.
[18]I am here paraphrasing Timothy Clark, Christopher
Gray, Donald Nicholson-Smith & Charles Radcliffe. The
Revolution of Modern Art and the Modern Art of
Revolution. 1967, unpublished text, accessible online
at http://www.notbored.org/english.html and
http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/modernart.html . 
[19]See H. Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension; and F.
Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man,1794,
accessible online at
[20]G. Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four. 1949, accessible
online at
http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/books/1984.htm .
[21]G. Debord. Society of the Spectacle. #12.
[22]On these grounds, we could speculate that one need
only attack the aesthetic shell of spectacular
politics and, as a consequence, the entire
superimposed pseudo-ethical construct will collapse.
By demonstrating and bringing into the foreground the
anti-aesthetical character, as well as effect, of the
aesthetics (of the dominant politics), one elucidates
the unethical character of the ethos of dominant

Publication Notes. 
This essay started as a gonzo dispatch from the
trenches of The First International Conference on
Ethics and Politics (a.k.a. the 1st International
Symposium of Philosophy at
http://www.philosophycrete.edu.gr ), which took place
in Heraklion-Crete, Greece, from May 24 to May 28,
2006. That is why several references and allusions to
the symposium and its activities constitute an
integral part of the text. However, for several
reasons that need not be elaborated here, it soon
became obvious to the author that the living text
persistently drifted toward a different direction, and
that this tendency should not be resisted. Hence the
present text.  

The text is accessible in PDF at

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