Thursday, April 20, 2006

Socialism Versus Post Modernism?

I was recently in a debate with a Foucaultian who was defending a post modern theory of politics versus a Marxist based theory. My argument was that post modernism does not offer a political framework at all regardless of the depth of the philosophical aspects of post modernism. He tried to position identity politics as the location of resistance and solidarity in contemporary times, but I responded that this is nothing new and does not get us anywhere because a solidarity based on likeness is not solidarity at all but just another reactionary form of chauvinism. Of course my debate partner made many excellent points and expanded my thinking on many fronts. He even convinced me to read Nietzsche, but truth be told I have been wanting to since I missed a question on Jeopardy related to the Uberman.

In any case, I argued that in order to truly develop a society that can address the issues that identity politics brings to the fore, like racism and sexism, you must have a political entity to affect and enforce change. I gave the example of some young Black Communist Party members who I met recently in NYC. They described their visits to Cuba and Venezuela where racism is strictly illegal. They described a change in consciousness when they arrived in those lands which profoundly altered the perception of their American experience. While in these socialist countries they shed the defensiveness they didn't even know they carried with them everyday in America as a result of racist (and classist) attitudes that prevail in Our Fair Land. They were able to walk the streets with dignity as people instead of as black people. In this way they were able to be free of the social chains that constantly reify their very identities.

Frankly I do not see how a post modern aesthetic can help solve these problems. Only a society based on democratic equality and the elimination of barriers that create separation between people can solve these problems. Such a society must be based on socialist principles as the primary function of capitalist society is to build and reinforce hierarchy, a project for which classism, racism, sexism, and chauvinism are all tools.

I will close with encouraging news from Cuba:
Havana, Apr 16 (Prensa Latina) On the same place the socialist character of the Revolution was declared 45 years ago, Cuba ratified the willingness and resoluteness to continue with its political, economic and social project irrespective of the ever-present US threats and aggressions.


At 78 years, Cuba has the highest healthy life expectancy in Latin America (WHO statistics).

More on Cuba Buttresses Revolution and Socialism...

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