Thursdays at the Fremantle Hotel, corner Cliff & High Streets
Presentations start 6.30pm sharp.
10 October 2002
The utopia of postdemocracy is that of an uninterrupted count that presents the total of 'public opinion' as identical to the body of people. ... It is the absolute removal of the sphere of appearance of the people. ... [People] are always totally present and totally absent (Rancière, 1999, p. 103)
This is an unfinished paper - WORK IN PROGRESS - hoping to generate discussion...
So we are going to war - or so we are told! Why war? It seems to me that to posit such a question already limits our answers reducing them to only two possible responses: 'for' or 'against.'
Yet, if an answer is required, we can take the line of the conspiracy theories and look at, for example, the psychological motivation of Mister President - "acting out a classical Oedipal drama - overcome Daddy to get Mommy," as Carol Wolman tells us. "By deposing Saddam, when his father did not, he may want to prove himself more worthy of his mother's love. His rationale that he is avenging the assassination attempt on George, Sr., may be a reaction formation - his way of hiding the true motive from himself" (Wolman, 2002).
Or we can go for the domination of the oil market, when, as the argument goes, the war "will leave US oil companies - including Mr Bush's own buddies - in control of one of the world's largest reserves of oil (Fisk, 2002) "once a compliant regime is installed in Baghdad" (Faruqui, 2002).
Or we can even expand with Robert Fisk to explain the president's "project of 'regime change" driven by transformation of "the map of the Middle East" generating "a tide of oil wealth for US companies" while diminishing "Israel's enemies to impotence" or we can go to diversion theories of a coverup of an economic slowdown, as Simon Roughneen tells us, "It's still the economy, and we're still stupid" because "all the recent wartalk has been offset slightly by the creeping realisation that all is not well in the US or global economy" (Roughneen, 2002).
I will avoid these routes.
In this paper I want to look at the possibility of war not as an outcome of all the above reasons or some others but as a symptom of the current state of international affairs, or rather globalisation ... I want to 'wonder' (thaumazo) about the relevance of political philosophy to our understanding of today.
To begin with, I want to tell you a story recounted by Thucydides in the Fifth Book of the The History of the Peloponnesian War. The story is about Athenians.
Philosophy/Media Communication and Culture, SSHE, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch, Western Australia
Meno: I admit the cogency of your argument, and therefore, Socrates, I wonder that knowledge should be preferred to right opinion - or why they should ever differ.
Socrates: And shall I explain this wonder to you?
Meno: Do tell me.
Socrates: You would not wonder if you had ever observed the images of Daedalus; but perhaps you have not got them in your country?
Meno: What have they to do with the question?
Socrates: Because they require to be fastened in order to keep them, and if they are not fastened they will play truant and run away.
Meno: Well. what of that?
Socrates: I mean to say that they are not very valuable possessions if they are at liberty, for they will walk off like runaway slaves; but when fastened, they are of great value, for they are really beautiful works of art. Now this is an illustration of the nature of true opinions: while they abide with us they are beautiful and fruitful, but they run away out of the human soul, and do not remain long, and therefore they are not of much value until they are fastened by the tie of the cause; and this fastening of them, friend Meno, is recollection, as you and I have agreed to call it. But when they are bound, in the first place, they have the nature of knowledge; and, in the second place, they are abiding. And this is why knowledge is more honourable and excellent than true opinion, because fastened by a chain.
Meno: What you are saying, Socrates, seems to be very like the truth.
Socrates: I too speak rather in ignorance; I only conjecture. And yet that knowledge differs from true opinion is no matter of conjecture with me. There are not many things which I profess to know, but this is most certainly one of them.
New: 18 February, 2002 | Now: 8 May, 2015