Saturday, December 15, 2007

"must be replaced"

"Economic relations cannot be addressed via political means, but must be replaced."
- swords cannot fight the fog

What is the meaning of this "must be replaced"?
What makes up the "Economic relations" in question?
Why must they be replaced?
Who makes this demand?
(With what authority? To what end?)

The demand - asked by an unknown speaker - seems implicitly based on a moral authority that we have no reason to attribute to her or him.
In which case, where does one locate the authority of this moral question?

Let us set up a theoretical stand-in for these demands: a misattributed quote, perhaps a fabrication, but no less urgent morally:
"The fact that there is no need for people to die of starvation and that people are dying of starvation is a fact of some importance one would think."

Why does this compelling moral case imply the must of replacement? And: what system is being attacked here, the actual system of economic relations or its ideal counterpart?

The system is necessarily responsible in some ways for the negative outcomes possible within it, as it allows for those outcomes. "Must be replaced" assumes that the replacement will relieve these problems - is this a realistic expectation?

The system of economic relations as it actually is shares little with the system as its presented (by its proponents as well as by its enemies). Is the ideal flawed [A], or its reality [B]?

This question proposes multiple distinct enemies: to A and B we must add C, the relationship between A and B. Certain structural conceits mediate the relationship between A and B in ways that are neither emanations nor contradictions of A. C is the group of independent phenomena that are combined with A in order to produce actuality. Let us add to this list D, the group of meta-phenomena that determines the frameworks of C. C and D are each dependent on previous historical situations in concrete but different ways (which ways?).

These questions should occasion a "return to zero," a reevaluation of the goals of any movement in relation to actuality.

The root of the "must", from zero, must itself be proven through an analysis of two systems: the ideal and the actual.

Any attacks waged against the problems of the actual should be considered as shifts rather than replacements. Certainly elements of the actual are to be maintained by virtue of their physical - rather than moral - necessity.
[Which begs the question: are our moral necessities in conflict with the possible realms of the actual? Is the revolution demanded by this "must" achievable in the world? Let us not fall into the traps of platonicity.]

If the problem is one of reality, then we should be careful to attack the system actually responsible. Attacking the wrong target is neither victory or defeat, but distraction - and therefore, further postponement of worthwhile struggle.

No comments: