December 08, 2005

Populism: The Beast that Won't Die

I should have mentioned this before now, but you can find the full text of Alberto Toscano's paper from 'The Politics of Truth' conference at Savonarola's new blog together with two other, closely related, papers. Savonarola also has a thing or two to say on the populism debate, which if, we're lucky, he'll post there soon.

Speaking of the populism debate (and Kenneth Rufo has provided a round-up of all the posts to date on that subject) , after some knockabout stuff, Le Colonel Chabert clarifies what she objected to in Zizek's alleged exculpation of the management class:

'Zizek absolves capitalists and their courtiers in politics of specific actions undertaken to accumulate capital and weaken competitors and producers. He says that the managers 'hands are tied' and that the Machine of Capital dictates state policy. Changing management of a state - from say Lavals to Latortue - cannot therefore change policy. This is demonstrably untrue. Morover, it is not 'populists' who make the claim that personality shifts in management change policy, it is corporate media disseminating the propaganda of its owners which make this claim. Class shifts in management change policy; personality shifts do not. But there is a spectrum of possible policy within capitalism which is not insignificant.'

In the same comments thread, Lenin agrees with LCC that I had 'fundamentally misconstrued Chabert's point'. He further observes: 'The point about ruling class agency is important. No class is more class-conscious than that which owns the wealth, no other class has the capacities for self-organisation and self-regeneration, and none is more coordinated. This doesn't involve the supposition that they operate as a concentrated conspiratorial clique etc, although small sections of the ruling class may do this. Nor does it involve abandoning structure: we really ought to dispense with the old structure-agency dichotomy, or at least deconstruct it. The class structure calls forth particular personality traits, emphasises them, accentuates them, so that it isn't unreasonable to suppose that the ruling class is disproportionately composed of functional sociopaths. And, perhaps, one might add, they are more inclined to acts of Eeeeeeviillllll...'

I'll formulate fuller responses to both these interventions shortly.

In the meantime, can I make a request that any k-punk readers so inclined start posting at Dissensus? The board is fairly dead at the moment, and the Thought and Politics fora have never come to any sustained life. That's a shame, because I know that if only a handful of the readers of this site started posting regularly the board could be an excellent space for concept engineering. It's a space much better suited for collective discussion than the comments box of any individual's weblog, and I know from experience at alt.movies.kubrick that it only takes 10-12 people committed to regularly posting high quality comment to produce a vibrant discursive space. One question that Le Colonel posed in her comments thread, was 'What is Capitalism?' That strikes me as just the sort of question that could usefully be chewed over at Dissensus.

Posted by mark at December 8, 2005 12:28 AM | TrackBack