Archive for April 13th, 2007

Seed Newsvine

Steve Holland reporting for Reuters writes:

White House political adviser Karl Rove was embroiled in a new controversy over potentially missing e-mails on Friday, the latest twist in the firings of eight U.S. prosecutors last year.

The White House disclosed that the Republican National Committee in early 2006 took away Rove’s ability to delete e-mails sent and received through a party e-mail account.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino had no explanation for why the RNC, the governing arm of President George W. Bush’s political party, would stop Rove from deleting e-mails.

There is an old proverb that goes something like this: Don’t tie your shoes in a watermelon patch. The idea here is that one shouldn’t even give the appearance that one is stealing watermelons. Bending down to tie one’s shoes might very well give that appearance. Now I don’t know if Karl Rove is guilty of deliberately deleting critical e-mails that might shed light on the Gonzalez scandal, but I can accuse the presidential adviser of tying his shoes in the people’s watermelon patch. What is most sad about this scandal ridden is that the scandals bring embarrassment, harm and loss of international prestige to this nation and its people. Apologists for the president will argue that there is no smoking gun, there is no proof, and so on. The fact remains that when scandals reach the level of doing harm to the nation they must be cut off at the knees. The Bush scandals cost American lives while the scandals of the prior administration were politically motivated, involved the moral failure to keep pants zipped, and brought harm and embarrassment on the presidential family. For this the president and the nation suffered through a political impeachment and trial. I recall the words of Joseph Welsh when he turned to Senator Joseph McCarthy and asked, “Have you no shame, Senator? Have you no shame?” This same question can be asked of Republicans and the Bush White House. What, pray tell, is the limit of your shame?

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Seed Newsvine

Žižek (2001) makes the claim that in order to break the liberal-democratic hegemony in order to reclaim an authentic radical posture, one must endorse a position that refuses to compromise (in the pragmatic political sense) and be willing to accept both the positive and negative effects of one’s position. To do otherwise is to fall embarrassingly short of the “unconditional ethical demand.” In order to accomplish this goal Žižek suggests that one cannot turn to foundational theorists. He argues that Christ does not become Christian until he encounters St. Paul and later Augustine, bishop of Hippo; that Marx does not become a Marxist until he is interpreted by Lenin; that Freud does not make sense until he is seen first through the eyes of Jung and, finally, through a Lacanian lens. The point made by Žižek is simply this: the revisionists, those that first put into practice that which the foundationalists offer reject the “irresponsibility” of the foundational thinkers. Žižek argues that the foundationalists advocate grand projects, but, when the chips are down, they are unwilling to pay the price for implementing their positions with concrete and often cruel political acts. “Like an authentic conservative,” Žižek writes, “a true Leninist is not afraid to pass to the act, to assume all the consequences, unpleasant as they may be, or realizing his political project.” Žižek goes on to write, “[A] Leninist, like a Conservative, is authentic in the sense of fully assuming the consequences of his choice, i.e. of being fully aware of what it actually means to take power and to exert it.” (emphasis in original)

In brief, what Žižek suggests is that in order to break the strangle-hold of any established institution, in this case perhaps global-liberal-capitalism it is not enough to simply fixate on adjusting the old program to new conditions. To do so is something like moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. Change, in Žižek’s terms, is not nostalgia, not more of the same, not a return to the good old days. Change, rather, is brought about by radical acts that are bound up by in but are significantly different than their theoretical origins. Žižek sums up this way: “What Christianity did with regard to the Roman Empire, this global “multiculturalist” polity, we should do with regard to today’s Empire.” This clear reference to Gibbon’s argument that the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of Rome was the root cause of the decline and fall of the once great Empire is arresting. What does Žižek see as the uncompromising force of the 21st Century that will prove to be the underlying action that will bring about the decline and fall of the West?


Žižek, S. (2001). On belief. London, UK: Routledge

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