rights set loose in the wild

Is there an ambiguity, a gap between formal freedom , formal democracy as practice and ritual: constitutional rights and freedoms, and an economic reality of liberty and a relative value, similar to Heidegger’s cultural relativism, and the inherent income disparities. Or is domination and exploitation, soft-core suffering, built into the system; the system itself an elaborate facade that conceals the play within a larger piece of theater…

---Emanuel Leutze. Zizek:At the very moment when we try to conceive the political rights of citizens without reference to a universal ‘meta-political’ human rights, we lose politics itself; that is to say, we reduce politics to a ‘post-political’ play of negotiation of particular interests. Image:http://fineartamerica.com/featured/washington-crossing-the-delaware-river-emanuel-gottlieb-leutze.html

Zizek: This gap can be read in the standard ‘symptomatic’ way: formal democracy is a necessary but illusory expression of a concrete social reality of exploitation and class domination. But it can also be read in the more subversive sense of a tension in which the ‘appearance’ of égaliberté is not a ‘mere appearance’ but contains an efficacy of its own, which allows it to set in motion the rearticulation of actual socio-economic relations by way of their progressive ‘politicization’. Why shouldn’t women also be allowed to vote? Why shouldn’t workplace conditions be a matter of public concern as well?…

John Gast. Manifest Destiny. ---However, we cannot hold that Veblen has an unfounded point of view, given that he considers the state of the world to be so lost in the business system and the interests that sustain it. Moreover, Veblen’s criticisms of the business system are important, coherent and should be considered, even if his solutions seem unsavory. In looking at a manner to democratize Veblen’s technocracy while retaining faith in education and democracy, the important criticisms Veblen makes of business might be preserved while avoiding the unpleasant possibility of rule by experts, which is at best an aristocracy. To this end, we will employ the democratic theory of John Dewey. The rule of experts is, in Dewey’s thought, a type of “revival of the Platonic notion that philosophers should be kings.”--- Read More:http://www.philosophy.uncc.edu/mleldrid/SAAP/USC/TP16.html

…We might perhaps apply here the old Lévi-Straussian term of ‘symbolic efficiency’: the appearance of égaliberté is a symbolic fiction which, as such, possesses actual efficiency of its own; the properly cynical temptation of reducing it to a mere illusion that conceals a different actuality should be resisted. It is not enough merely to posit an authentic articulation of a life-world experience which is then reappropriated by those in power to serve their particular interests or to render their subjects docile cogs in the social machine. Much more interesting is the opposite process, in which something that was originally an ideological edifice imposed by colonizers is all of a sudden taken over by their subjects as a means to articulate their ‘authentic’ grievances. A classic case would be the Virgin of Guadalupe in newly colonized Mexico: with her appearance to a humble Indian, Christianity—which until then served as the imposed ideology of the Spanish colonizers—was appropriated by the indigenous population as a means to symbolize their terrible plight.Read More:http://libcom.org/library/against-human-rights-zizek

But to make of this? From the perspective of Veblen, human rights would be a commodity, a kind of fetish object of comparative preference basically in the hands of an elite at the top of the pecking order with diluted versions as one heads down the slope. Essentially, the endgame of capitalism is autocratic rule, rule by experts, technocracy as we have now in Italy and Greece, where human rights cannot really be appropriated within the democratic system which is not wholly functional. In this view democracy is conceived of as a transitional state replaced by a rule of experts to determine what does the gap between human rights and political signify without the context of the trappings of democracy. Can we have human rights while disenfranchising a given community as a whole?  John Dewey would say that essential grievances are integral to the democratic system which is the means as well as the end, which precludes technocracy. But, as Zizek says, the basic dilemma, the paradox is that universal human rights, as a concept are applied to those already reduced to inhumanity…

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