Yeah, I saw the thing about recognition of Indian religions in the Spanish link you provided (I don’t speak the language, but I understand just enough words to know what “la supremacía de la fe indígena sobre la religión católica” means).
I think it is a worrying thing and a show of the fact that after the fall of the Soviet Union, a part of the left has withdrow itself to posmodernism, where they claim that there is an ‘ideological struggle’ between cultures and that all belief systems are equivalent. So, quite often, they don’t want a secular society and identify the science as another belief system and sign of colonialism as the catholic religion was in the past. Of course, it is possible to find rational voices in the left ( as in the right ), and I wouldn’t claim the majority of the left adheres to posmodernism, but I’d say this is a noticeable trend. again, there are Again, there are voices in the left opposed to this view, but some degree of posmodernism arises on the left in the last years
Here the left has a strong afinity with psichoanalysis, and the pshichoanalist trick: when they realize that they couldn’t provide scientific proof of their belief, they came with the idea that is psychoanalysis what shows science’s limitations and not the opposite.
I tend to agree with Alan Sokal in his view about this phenomena and I’d say that this trends deserve a more profound analysis that I could do.
i certainly see the left of having a growing strain of post modernism. i know plenty who go to workshops on channeling, believe in alien visitations, think that truth is relative, etc. basically they are lazy, mush-minded liberals who want a leader to save them from the capitaltheist wilderness (as opposed to liberating themselves, beginning with their minds and the chains of post-modern malarkey).
I don’t know if it’s postmodernism… I mean, postmodernism’s been around for 40 years; leftists in the academia have been enchanted with it since the consciousness revolution.
It’s not even that new a development. The Cold War made it look as if communism was an internationalist monolith because neither the USSR nor Mao cared much for local traditions, but some of the most successful and most ruthless communists were nationalists: Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Tito, Deng, to some extent even Che Guevara. It’s just that East Asia’s never had a pro-life tradition, while Catholic countries do. On the contrary, in East Asia the notion that civil liberties are a bourgeois evil combined with the globally dominant view about population control to produce forced abortions.
As for the left’s acceptance of authoritarianism, it didn’t start with postmodernism. Postmodernism has made some on the left accept more conservative authoritarian arguments, say from Muslim extremists or even from Mugabe, but Stalinist apologetics goes back to the 1930s. The debate within Israel’s labor movement over whether to support Stalin or not was only settled when it became clear he was an anti-Semite. You see it even here, with Truthaddict’s Chávez apologetics (quick, what’s the excuse for his attempt to repeal term limits and permit confiscation of property without due process?). Before the radical left had Chávez to defend, it defended Cuba, Cambodia, and (North) Vietnam.
(Incidentally, it’s not just the left. People who can be perfectly rational in exposing communist atrocities have often engaged in apologetics for right-wing dictators: Suharto, Pinochet, the Shah, Saddam pre-1990. Tom Friedman basically called Pinochet an enlightened despot. I doubt you can find 10 pundits worldwide who attack every dictatorship, no matter what platitudes it mouths.)
the chavez comment was funny and cute, but horribly inaccurate. there is no need in re-pointing out how and why that is.
[edited: why the hell not call you out: A) i previously said I agreed with the Zapatistas in their criticisms of Chaves and the Chavistas; b) my “apologetics” consisted of me refuting your claim that he is closing down in the opposition media. i notice you have never dealt with the information and have preferred to rely on calling me an apologist instead.! nice!]
Postmodernism, like most extreme schools of thought (laissez faire capitalism, Stalinist communism), seems to have taken a sensible idea to absurd extremes. I think it is defensible, and correct, to say that the proclamation of one’s own cultural values as necessarily right and universal (as GW Bush likes to do) is arrogant, not supported by history, and false. Deciding what values may in fact be universal, as opposed to truly relative, is tricky and complex, but it is neither right to say that none are universal or fundamentally true (extreme relativism) or that all are (evangelical religion). HERE is a thread ont he subject we had going a while back (I don’t want to hijack this one). It is true the left sometimes goes too far in considering science just another cultural POV, but it is also true that scientists are people subject to cultural bias like anyone else. Social darwinism and eugenics are ideas which scientists tried to make arguments for less on a purely scientific, empirical basis than from a desire to validate with science their own cultural biases. I think science will always be subject to such misapplication, but I also think its inherent self-corrective methods provide a reasonably good anodyne for this ill. Howevere, a degree of relativism (the equivalent of keeping an o[pen mind), is useful also.
Alon, although I wouldn’t put Chávez’s name between dictators ( he doesn’t kill his oposition, he doensn’t imprissioned people for political ideas nor have a gulag or concentration camps in the form taugh in the America’s School and he won clean and democratic elections, and as I see it, although oportunist, the closing of RTCV was perfectly legal (*) ), I tend to agree that almost every people makes a distinction beetwen friendly and unfriendly dictators ( friendly or unfriendly to their political positions ). In my country, the posmodernism into the left is a new trend… usually science universities were the most left winged, to the extreme to be the main target of a catholic dictator we had in the 60s. Anyway, we have a lot of leftist intelectual in love with existencialism fifty years ago.
Just for clarification, I don’t agree with Chavez politics, but its legitimacy is strong as far as I see.
Brennen, I would make a important distinction between cultural relativism, ethical relativism and cognitive relativism. I don’t have problems with the first two (and I’d say that a degree of cultural relativism is important to avoid being a racist idiot), I think cognitive relativism is a pernicious idea. While we should know that we could only know that a certain scientific theory is congruent with facts and there is no way to know if we reaches ‘the truth’, we should understand that the predictive value of a theory makes the diference, and that this predictive powers allows us to improve our knowledge of our enviroment and raise our quality of life, fighting poverty. For this reason I think the extreme cognitive relativism the left uses to support is a for their own objectives.
(*) Moreover, I guess if a channel which supports a ilegitimate goverment and a coup de tat doens’t deserve a punishment.
alon, what barto just said about chavez, apply the same to me. just because I corrected you on the RCTV issue or brought in other related factors to better explain the issues does not mean I am a Chavista. Im not by any means
I agree completely. It is the element of “cognitive relativism” that I think is where postmodernism goes too far. I think there is a tendancy to lump the three together, and I hadn’t thought about categorizing the different aspects as clearly as you did to make my point. I would say cultural and ethical relativism also can be carried to extremes, and I don’t swear that no universal values can be identified, but in general I think these categories are necessary to counter our natural arrogance and egoism, so they are worth the flaws they come with. With permission, I’ll borrow the distinctgion in future discussions on the topic!
Barto, RCTV violated no law, or at least no law worthy of following. Rush Limbaugh advocated armed resistance to the government when Clinton was in power, and the republic survived without violating his freedom of speech. Chávez arbitrarily chose not to renew RCTV’s license, based on the argument that “he didn’t like privately owned media” (i.e. media he doesn’t control). And now he’s trying to not only make elections less frequent and abolish term limits, but also revoke private property. He says it’s about democracy, but I can’t help noticing that in 200 years of democratic governance, there hasn’t been a single democracy where the government could confiscate private property without due process.
Now, so far, he hasn’t killed anyone off (as far as I know). But I remember two years ago how his supporters, including myself, said he was a democrat because “He hasn’t closed off any opposition paper or channel.” At the time I saw him as somewhat of an American-style Cold Warrior, supporting democracy at home but allying himself with dictatorships abroad. Then came the rule by decree, the shutdown of RCTV, and now the revocation of term limits and private property.
Anyway, only the most introspective and honest people say their distinction is between friendly dictators and unfriendly ones. Not everyone has the candor of Jean Kirkpatrick. Most likely, those pundits deny their friends are dictators in the first place. Atrocities are rationalized as necessary acts of national security; crackdowns on free speech are justified as necessary for public order; terrorism is apologized for as freedom fighting; police state actions are supported as counterterrorism. Ronald Reagan didn’t say apartheid South Africa was an unsavory regime he had to support for the greater good of fighting communism, but instead included it in the free world. Reading Chomsky on Vietnam, you’d think Ho Chi Minh was Nelson Mandela. The only post-WW2 dictatorship that nobody’s called democratic is Singapore, which explicitly bills itself as authoritarian and proud.
alon, the vast majority (up to like 90%) of the venezuelan media is in private hands and most of them are viruently opposed to Chavez.
RCTV is still a company and they are still permitted to run on satelite and cable.
they did break numerous laws. one in particular was not just the calling for the coup de tat but the censorship they did of the protests and actions to restore him.
but, if youre so concerned with the law then why havent you pointed out that Chavez did not break the law??? even Lula (president of Brazil) said the non-renewal of the license was done in a “democratic” manner.
Anyway, I think it is clear that you have an outrageous predisposition on this topic and you are rushing to make comments about things you dont have that deep of an understanding of. Just like the media comment. You dismissed comments about media bias but apparently didnt catch the obvious one you just presented: Times completely massacred the abortion issue in Bolivia and the BBC only reported the reality of the issue in Spanish. Why US and Western media havent reported the story accurately makes sense under the media bias in favor of the state hypothesis.
Like your Chomsky comment, too. It was clear that it was designed to be reactionary. You didnt cite any evidence, and you dont need to. I understand perfectly what youre referring to and quickly could tell that you were massacring it just as bad as the Times massacred the Morales-abortion issue. Chomsky is an American who protested the atrocious crime being committed against Vietnam. By him pointing out that Ho Chi Minh had the most support in Vietnam (south and north) and would win any elections (which is why they were squashed by the US and France) means you spin it to say that he made him out to be Mandela. It says alot about the predisposition you are operating from when you assert that when Chomsky points out that our aggression is intolerable and that the people of Vietnam already chose their leader that you dismiss him as an apologist; or your comments about the media, Latin America or Reagan and Apartheid (your comment seemed to imply that its okay to prop up brutal regimes like the Apartheid system to block a foreign population of determining their fate if it doesnt go the way Washington wants it).
When we were in Vietnam it was a completely moot issue to bring up what we think about Ho Chi Minh. That is for the people of Vietnam to decide. Besides, you apparently dont know much about the man and i dont see much use in giving you a history lesson because Im noticing a pattern of you making antagnositic and reactionary comments about things that you dont have much of a grasp of - from chavez to morales to the media to chomsky to bertrand russell to vietnam.
Anyway, I think its clear that there isnt much more of a reason to continue with you. Good luck and take care!
I think that it is not a binary clasification, there are degrees in dictatorship and democracy, and I am willing to admit that Chávez is not the most democratic president in the world, but I don’t feel the RTCV affair is too terrible. Let me explain: here in latam, as you know, our democracies are very new. They emerge in the middle of the 80s after bloody dictatorship. Well, in almost every shout american country, they newborn, fragile democratics regime dictates laws banning every call to a coup de tat. It means that here is a crime to call for non democratic opposition to a legitime regime. Note that it is not necesary to do anything, but just talk through the media to break the law. Of course, this is a limitation of the freedom of speach, but I think that it was not a bad idea in its time.
Moreover, here we have the ‘democracy defence law’ which stablish heavy penalties to any crime against democracy, and includes propaganda in the set of crimes. (Just as a curiosity: although never applied, the only way you can receive death penalty here is being a militar and participateting in coup de tat)
I am willing to admit, also, that the closing of RTCV was extemporaneuos and should have happened in 2003 after the coup de tat.
I don’t want to bore you, but I guess I could point a couple of arguments based on historical facts to support the idea that the ‘democracy defence law’ was a good idea in south america, if you are interested in. I understand that US democracy survived a nut calling for armed resistence, but there is a big diference in the stability of our democracies here in the south with the strenght and stability of US democracy.
I find the attempt to end the term limits is not a good thing and it could be the first step to dictatorship. Regarding the attempt to end private property, I don’t see it clearly in the new Venezuela constitution (although I didn’t read the new constitution and I am not a constitutionalist). I know that a leader from the Chavez’s opposition claimed that the new constitution will end the private property, but I was able to find only that the following:
The reform contemplates also the prhibition of the concentration in media ownership and allows the confiscation of private property, if this property is represents a danger to others citizen ot to the society
Here we have similar clauses: you cannot own more than one channel of air TV and there is a mechanism in the law to allow the confiscation of certains goods. Here you need the congress aproval and I guess it is a good mechanism to defend the society. I’d like to know more details and certainly I’d agree that it would be dangerous to have an expropriation mechanism which depends only on executive power approval.