|• Some Politically Incorrect Reflections on Violence in France & Related Matters •|
|© lacan.com 2005|
Re Envy,natural inequalities, political violence
"Is it not true that natural inequalities will still lead to asymmetrical benefits, even as they improve the life of society's worst-off? That is, a naturally gifted person will sometimes benefit much more from his or her own talents than the least well-off person in the Rawlsian society, who still accrues some spillover effects...
The worst-off person would retain the jealousy and self-defeating justifications for violence that Zizek discusses; even though the Rawlsian would reassure this person that they are "the best-off they could possibly be," this would be small comfort to the jealous person of a--now 'morally justified'--inferior standing."
A more just society would not eliminate envy or jealousy. But individual triumphalism based on natural talents is a rejection of the equal concern and respect which is the rationale for subordinating natural talents to the requirements of justice. Individual triumphalism on the part of the best-off isn’t legitimated by Rawlsian liberalism. It is as self-defeating as envy and jealousy and as incompatible with a sense of justice.
Relative deprivation is thought by some to be a cause of political violence but only one of many.
Its effects are considerably lessened when there is a consensus on the legitimacy of shared political and social institutions-- the Rawlsian overlapping consensus.
Michael Wallack <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Halifax, N.S. Canada, - Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 19:35:27 (EST)
Per Michael Wallack's comment:
"Rawls' system of justice is based on the principle that natural inequalities are only to lead to benefits for the individuals that have them when they are also to the advantage of the least well off."
Is it not true that natural inequalities will still lead to asymmetrical benefits, even as they improve the life of society's worst-off? That is, a naturally gifted person will sometimes benefit much more from his or her own talents than the least well-off person in the Rawlsian society, who still accrues some spillover effects. Even though the talents of such a person would maximize the well-being of the worst-off person in society, they would also contribute to inequality, making the worst-off person worse off relative to the naturally endowed person, but better off in an objective sense.
The worst-off person would retain the jealousy and self-defeating justifications for violence that Zizek discusses; even though the Rawlsian would reassure this person that they are "the best-off they could possibly be," this would be small comfort to the jealous person of a--now 'morally justified'--inferior standing.
In short, that the worst-off would benefit would be small comfort to them as they watch the well-endowed continue to soar above them for no other reason than that their natural talent and drive placed them in such a superior position. Meanwhile, the Rawlsian pats them on the head, saying "this was all for your own good."
That Zizek doesn't consider the absolute well-being of the worst-off person doesn't seme particularly relevant, as the frustration he discusses emerges from relative asymmetries in well-being, not in the absolute level of the wost-off's happiness.
Mike Taylor <email@example.com>
Washington, DC, - Tuesday, December 06, 2005 at 12:14:25 (EST)
Excellent point about Zizek's second hand sources regarding Rawls. In A Theory of Justice, Rawls’s intention with regard to the ‘original situation’ is precisely not to justify natural inequalities but to argue that all types of inequalities are social constructions that should work to the advantage of the least well off.
Secondly, a short remark on - “As to the "terrorist" fundamentalists' attacks, the first thing that strikes the eye 1 is the inadequacy of the idea, developed most systematically by Donald Davidson, that human acts are rationally-intentional, accountable in the terms of beliefs and desires of the agent. 2 This approach exemplifies the racist bias of the theories of "rationality": although their aim is to understand the Other from within, they end up attributing to the Other the most ridiculous beliefs”.
So, basically to think that humans act on a rational basis is rasism. Interesting thought!
First, this argument is bogus, as Zizek is widening the meaning of the word ‘rasism’, dislocating the original meaning using a second meaning that falsifies any other rational statement. Secondly, it tries to suggest what is his ‘great’ discovery, ‘un-veiling’ thus the truth from prejudices, the fact that terrorists need a ‘rasist’ idea to confront their inferiority. What the Lacanian philosopher forgets here is that superiority and inferiority are the faces of the same coin and that they do need an ‘equal’ status and not something that is hidden and should be made ‘real’. His solution is more or less an intellectual trick and it is reasonable to think that it would reinforce what should be in fact dealt with – violence, anger, resentment.
All those who read the essay should be warned not to fall into this 'language' trap.
Bucharest, - Friday, December 02, 2005 at 11:08:56 (EST)
"Based on this insight, Dupuy proposes a convincing critique of John Rawls theory of justice: in the Rawls' model of a just society, social inequalities are tolerated only insofar as they are based on natural inequalities, which are considered contingent, not merits. "
The insight is based on a mistake. Rawls' system of justice is based on the principle that natural inequalities are only to lead to benefits for the individuals that have them when they are also to the advantage of the least well off.
Anything that can be identified as natural merit is in this way made to benefit the whole society as part of the social pact that subjects individual differences to the prinicple of equal concern and respect. That equality is the Kantian basis of Rawlsian justice.
Michael Wallack <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Canada, - Sunday, November 27, 2005 at 19:08:33 (EST)
perhaps zizek suggested this already, but i'm new to this game and can't recognize all his ideas yet...in the section "escape from new orleans," i was reminded of hegel and zizek's idea of the subject receiving its own message in inverse form. the united states wants to present itself as having the answer to a particular problem - say, in iraq - and its actions (the invasion, the on-going war, the political process there, etc) are an attempt to show this to the world. however, from other countries (and within iraq itself), america's actions are perceived as arrogant and inherently flawed. what the new orleans hurricane disaster represented, perhaps, is an interruption of the Real, a moment when america was forced to face the inadequacy of its own response to any type of disaster. when american disaster relief is applied to an american disaster, the response was almost absurd. america, in a sense, received its own message from itself in the form of the katrina disaster. i do know that, here in america, one immediate response to the disastrous disaster relief efforts was, "if this is how america responds to a hurricane and flooding, how would we respond to a terrorist invasion? where are all the improvements resulting from the 'war on terrorism'?" any thoughts on this? am i understanding the "message in return" idea adequately?
atlanta, ga, usa, - Friday, November 25, 2005 at 23:51:22 (EST)