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Re: <nettime> Political-Economy and Desire
Keith Hart on Mon, 5 Mar 2012 15:21:15 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Political-Economy and Desire


Mark,

There are two types of error: telling someone something they know already
and not telling them something they don't know. I would rather commit the
first type of error, but most of the people I know commit the second. So
here goes.

Louis Dumont is best known for his work on India. He wrote a book, Homo
Aequalis, on western notions of the economy. This was translated into
English as From Mandeveille to Marx. He wrote the foreword to the French
edition of Polanyi's The Great Transformation in 1983. Vincent Descombes
recently published an article on Dumont as a political thinker:
http://www.laviedesidees.fr/Louis-Dumont-comment-penser-le.html?lang=fr.

I was struck reading your two posts by the possible relevance of H.C.
Binswanger's Money and Magic (A Critique of the Modern Economy in Light of
Goethe's Faust). There's a review by Herman Daly here:
http://www.jayhanson.us/page71.htm.

Obviously there are many ways of approaching the idea that we are at a
turning point in human history. For some time now, I have been pursuing a
line that is closer to Felix's in the Facebook thread (posted today). This
is that the old and the new spend some time together and are never
completely separated. In particular, the decay of modernity since the 70s
(I prefer to call it national capitalism) involves to some extent a
reversion to what it originally claimed to supplant. Thus "neoliberalism"
reverts to the Old Regime with its addiction to rentseeking behaviour while
hiding behind the smokescreen of the free market (an issue raised by
Lorenzo Tripodi in the other thread). This raises the question of whether a
history of ideas is enough, given the confused social reality.

I respond to this situation by supposing that Rousseau, Kant and Goethe
have something to tell us because of their understanding of that previous
transition which we repeat even as something unheard of also emerges. I
like Hegel a lot and don;t think he deserves the bum rap Marx tried to pin
on him. Moreover, he is the godfather of national capitalism (most
explicitly in The Philosophy of Right). But he put the boot into Kant and
this move has been repeated by all his epigones. Yet, for all the luminous
moral/political philosophy and anthropology of Kant's last years, his
crowning achievement was his third critique, the Critique of Judgment,
which has a claim to having been the most influential book in the 19th
century. So even if we stick to the history of ideas, there is the problem
of radical shifts in fashion concerning what is important. In any case, for
the question you raise about a revival of moral politics, I would feel
obliged to start with Hegel's revolution against Kant when the categorical
imperative was dismissed as bourgeois individualism.

In my book The Memory Bank, I started out with a hypothesis not a million
miles from yours conerning the rebirth of humanity in the digital
revolution. I imagined that the impersonal society of the twentieth century
was being replaced by the new scope for personalization offered by cheap
information. But long before I finished the book, I realised that I was not
describing a radical switch from impersonal to personal, but rather
exploring how the relationship constituted by the personal/impersonal pair
was changing under contemporary conditions. I think this is still
important, but it grabs the attention less readily than my initial
formulation. Maybe more pople will read your book than did mine. that's a
consideration too.

Best,

Keith

On Sun, Mar 4, 2012 at 4:42 PM, <Newmedia {AT} aol.com> wrote:

> Brian:
>
> > Mark, this one is truly fascinating. Send updates as you  go.
>
> Thanks.  Here's some more . . .
>
>
> The key question, I believe, is what happened to VIRTUE in these
> socio-economic transitions.
>
>


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