Comment on LSE Book Review: The Socialist Way: Social Democracy in Contemporary Britain

“Inherently, there is nothing wrong with old ideas; rather, what is problematic is to misunderstand why such ideas wither, and to fail to apply them afresh to modern problems.”

The good ideas of solidarity, mutual help, moderation, and so on do not wither away at all, but their consideration on the Left does wither as they consider the ideas separately from the general context where they obtain their clear meaning in the first instance–that of a nation. The community, solidarity, social cohesion, and welfare state bemoaned by the Left make sense ideologically, economically, and politically in this narrative of a nation. Like it or not, until this is comprehended their thought will remain “largely unoriginal”.

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Comment on Book Review: Global Governance: Why? What? Whither?

Nations or particular cultures have striven to realize their essence rather than just their presence. But to realize their particular nature they must remain alive as well. It is this essence -presence gap where global governance could establish itself; yet nation-state would focus on restoring its authority when possible. In other words, if imagine that global government exists, that would be again, a unipolar world actually, camouflaged by respective rhetoric.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2013/09/08/book-review-global-governance-why-what-whither/#more-15581

comment on Book Review: Symbolic Power, Politics and Intellectuals: The Political Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu

If proceed with the presented logic of Bourdieu’s picture of human society, one could notice that the human societal being is reduced to power, power relations and resources, and the  evolved political. In other words, power is exclusive existential representative of the sociocultural.  Yet such a framework imposes difficulties on other lines of its own thought. For example, if the very nature of society consists of power, intellectuals engaged with power excess and conflicts could only lament: How much great would be their intellectual capacities they could only acknowledge the status quo that the nature of society is coercive throughout–built on power relations exclusively. In this framework, the intention of transforming society to the better is a declaration of kind wishes because it isn’t supported by it theoretically due to that image of society it has already conceptualized. There, what transcends power relations as the core of societal being is simply taken for granted and unsupported theoretically. Put otherwise,  it is artificially added to research narrative and hangs in the air. For example, there is no place for such category as legitimate force for the same reason, and its articulations of culture are not persuasive.  In general, the picture of sociocultural  relations is likely to resemble those of atoms subjected to coercive power relations which is indeed a poor narrative for understanding human society. Humans not only participate in power relations but also can enjoy harmony and peace, and both should find their proper arguments in a framework theorizing the sociocultural. Power is important but it is not the only or main representative of human being but it has a certain meaning or function. However,  until one learns the context attributing the meaning to power, one cannot learn what power exactly is; thus intellectuals engaged with power conflicts could hardly succeed. The reflection on the context one could find at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10746-013-9274-0 and/or at  http://philpapers.org/rec/KANTCM.Book Review: Symbolic Power, Politics and Intellectuals: The Political Sociology of Pierre BourdieuBook Review: Symbolic Power, Politics and Intellectuals: The Political Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu

My comment on Book Review: Multiculturalism

 

To start with, the phrase “civic-national multiculturalism” tells a lot. It might suggest that until one starts thinking about multiple cultures at once–how they would cohabit within one society (multi-cultural-ism)–, it would be preferable for one first to grind out the understating of “one” culture, the basis for individuals’ integration into a human society. According to my research, a particular culture is a particular human societal structure, the system of values and norms, laws loyalty to which normally ensures its additional (self-)reproduction in the global system of cultures (the culture system). But what would prompt the members to act likewise? The answer is simple: They enjoy just this way of being human among many ways available within the culture system. This account of culture overcomes racism explaining humanity predominantly in biological terms. Racism, culture-nature confusion, was a fundamental ideological error by the German national-socialists (why don’t qualify it as “naturalistic fallacy”?), having led to WW2 overwhelming catastrophe.
Thus the notion of multiculturalism seems deeply controversial. There is no “multi”, nor in nature neither in culture, but always a particular culture, the way of life its members enjoy. Culture B adopts some useful trait from culture A, and/or vice versa, voluntarily, as a means to the betterment of its own way of representing the human proper. Therefore no “multi” is produced through cultural exchange or otherwise, but the same particular culture becomes more rich in its affordances. The same concerns immigrants: They choose voluntarily to assimilate or not to assimilate based on relative attractiveness of their own culture in comparison with host culture. In the same way host culture have the same right to preserve itself until it represents the most attractive way of life for its members, the ultimate means to which is the nation-state. Thus, this calls for compromise. Immigrants who want to preserve their way of life should simultaneously understand that host culture members have the formally same rights and that there is no more territory as well as a nation-state, serving host culture’s self-reproduction, other then those it already employs, so immigrants should abide by its values and laws. Otherwise, expect conflicts based on fear and hate, not the “accommodation of the differences”, and negative trends like the rise of neo-fascism–the return/the reproduction of the errors of the catastrophic past. Neither party will become successful in the end.
These considerations are relevant to the topic also in several other ways. It is true to define Europe as “secular Christian”, with Christianity characteristically emphasizing the free will. This model of culture follows this tradition when fundamentally uses the term “voluntarily”. The same affords such understanding of culture that theoretically, is very close on giving up the agency-structure divide. The model, too, sees culture being compound thus fragile. For example English culture features not only Baconian naturalism but also the opposite trend maybe best exemplified by Lewis Carroll’s tales about Alice’s adventures.
As for “the crisis of secularism”, it truly, exists; though the presence of Muslims in Western Europe is somehow a challenge to it, the crisis is rather structural and lies in modernity’s narrative or worldview, as predominantly tied to both the scientific method (again, naturalism) and the economic way of thinking. However, generally this does not predict its final crisis at all. There are no successful ways copying the historical past.
in this light, multiculturalism seems to me more a program then a theory about facts. It resembles an agenda that consciously or not, seeks for conserving or expanding “minority” in the host culture. Not surprisingly, as each is naturally biased to the way of life they prefer in the culture system. But a compromise based on the basic understanding that universally, each have right to enjoy life they prefer most and that their nation-state is the watchdog to defend the right would diminish the possibility of conflict not only in a particular society but also in the culture system.
Saying one is “biased” is not just an offence. Insisting on this means underestimating a message by Max Weber’s innovative work “Nation-state and economic policy” warning “colleagues” that human science is subjected to the value judgment of different type and that scholars should learn to control it. The past errors or tragedies, as well as the current ones, have shown how much he was right not only theoretically but also practically. Presently playing zero-sum cultural game even more goes against this wisdom.
The theoretical foundations of this line of thought about culture explaining it as the tool specifically for serving the universal ultimate human interest is available at http://philpapers.org/rec/KANTCM.

Comment on Book Review: The Handbook of Sociocultural Anthropology

“‘[W]hat logos is appropriate for anthropos?’ (p.25). In addition, if we come to understand knowledge as something we produce rather than something we uncover then how do we validate our research? And – not to forget our discipline’s perennial Christmas cracker – what is culture anyway?”
The answer to these important questions lies in the word or meaning of “function”. To avoid the one-sided instrumentalist approach by the traditional functionalism or pragmatism, research should distinguish between ideal-symbolical and instrumental aspects or again, functions of culture. This seems to me the only way out of the “crisis”. However this requires reestablishing traditional methods like the “scientific method” or the economic way of thinking, with postmodernism being not an alternative one at all but a symptom of the inappropriateness of the former for replying to the question “what culture is?”.
Moreover, without the reestablishment of the general philosophical narrative, one could not rely on it that the crisis will have been resolved sometime, so the establishment of a kind of post-modern functionalism, too, seems to mark another stage of particular science-philosophy relations when particular science revitalizes itself by correcting not just its methods but also its object via gaining the new understanding of the reality proper.
A theory engaged in a similar enterprise, including the separation between the two general functions of culture, one could find at http://philpapers.org/rec/KANTCM or at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10746-013-9274-0.