Sartre and anarchism

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factvalue
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Jan 11 2014 10:00

Phenomenology has its place as a preliminary study of consciousness but the way Sartre and other phenomenologists treat human reality as somehow more basic than physical reality means you end up with a delusional description in which our experience of an object such as a book is somehow prior to or more fundamental than the atoms it’s made from. Although a lot of them claim to be walking a path between realism and anti-realism, from the phenomenological writings I’ve tried to plough through, objective reality doesn’t seem to exist for the likes of Sartre or Merleau-Ponty, only their experience of it. This shows up in a lack of de re references in their writing.

Sartre’s Being and Nothingness was written as a companion piece to that Nazi Martin Heidegger’s proto-fascist wankfest of obfuscation and opacity Being and Time and Sartre the Stalin supporter was instrumental in rehabilitating Hitler’s philosophical cheerleader and recruitment officer to international respectability after WW2. As far as the political implications of Sartre’s philosophy goes, if a person truly believes that objects in the social world such as bank notes are somehow already there in our consciousness rather than just pieces of paper given subjective colouring by people, it’s difficult to see how s/he might get cracking with the old tactics and strategy 'n' stuff.

Personally, coming from a science background I only have to hear that confused and over-used word ‘being’ and the pseudometer starts screaming and rattling around so loudly in my head that I have to stare at the corner of the ceiling until the violent stabbing action in my hand dies down.

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cresspot
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Jan 11 2014 05:41

Like I told Steve, anyone who writes a book like Being and Nothingness is definitely not a fucking anarchist

nominal9
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Jan 11 2014 18:35

factvalue....I read your post on phenomenology and agree completely. The link to Heidegger and the Nazi experience is particularly troubling for me, as well.... but their epistemology is (IMO) flawed regardless of the ideology... elsewhere, I opined that phenomenologists took up the (misunderstood) Nietzchean battle cry "God is Dead"... and completed it with the followup.... "Long Live the new phenomenological Man-God" .... speaking politically.... passing on the crown and all that.... one "king" in place of another....In one of his posts,the Pontefract wrote ABOUT Sartre...' The question of his idealism is an interesting one. He claims at the end to have "chased the Spirit out of the sky", but he possibly succeeds more on the intellectual than on the emotional level.".... Pontefract is correct about that.... the question of "God" and religion comes into it when Hegel and the Idealist conception of Spirit is brought into play.... but religion is incidental to the question of the subjectivity of the Conceptus (thought)... Kant with his noumenon was religious as well.... and he held the objectivity of the transcendent and the a priori.... Anyway.... theism, agnosticism atheism... whatever... they're all possible under any view....Nice to make both of your acquaintances also, Ponterfact and factvalue.

confusionboats
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Jan 11 2014 20:20

http://i.imgur.com/WG76KQi.png
he was captured as a POW and did contribute to Combat for a short period of time
the claim of being a 'resister' however is pretty absurd.

Sartre always wanted to be more political than he actually was. To me, his 'free will' deus ex machina through negation is completely antithetical to the determinism espoused by dialectical materialists. He was right to think that existentialism was incompatible with Marxism (or rather the kind-of sovietinspired Marxism-Leninism) that the PCF had adopted.

He did sign the Manifesto 121, which was an open letter by a number of French intellectuals against the Algerian War. Allying yourself with the Soviet Union was one the tactics employed in the struggle against imperialism. (although in my opinion Soviet "backing" of revolutions around the world was really just a guise for 'soviet imperialism')

I've never really understood the phenomenon of Maoism in France. Almost all of the French 'Maoists' were intellectuals almost all of whom lived in the city. Perhaps there was a kind of cynicism there. Or perhaps it came out of the Algerian war (which could be seen as an unsuccessful socialist revolution followed by a successful maoist one) Maoism was also seen as an alternative to the outdated politics of the PCF.

from what I know, the French 'Maoists' have always been fairly libertarian and not terribly dogmatic (I could be wrong). A lot of it I think was aesthetics.

Sartre's philosophy is compatible with anarchism, he himself was an uncommitted communist who for a period of time wound up as an ironic pseudo-Stalinist. He should have travelled to Italy. He would have liked Autonomism.

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Entdinglichung
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Jan 11 2014 20:38

there were two Maoisms in France, the anti-revisionists who had their roots among older members of PCF (PCMLF, PCML, etc.) and those who emerged out of the splits of the PCF's student org UEC (especially many who were students of Althusser, another wing of the UEC became the Mandelite Trotskyiste JCR) around 1965 who became Gauche prolétarienne, Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (Badiou's gang), Vive la révolution or OCT, the latter never bought the full maoist program and were very much shaped by the influence of 1968 ... to my perception, they weren't that different from e.g. Lotta Continua

The Pontefract ...
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Jan 11 2014 21:50

From the PCF's point of view, Sartre is suspect even during his time as a fellow traveller because the starting point of his philosophy, tempered as it is over the years by his experience of war and realization of the reality of the class struggle, is the individual, or, to put it another way, himself.

Sartre attempts to live without ready made values, attempts to introduce a subjective element into Marxism, to liberate it from its complacent faith in the inevitability of its, and the proletariat's, triumph, to undermine the authoritarian scientific approach that has made tablets of stone of its pronouncements, and left piles of dead bodies behind it.

He breaks with the pretence that is objectivity. He accepts no authority, formal or informal, he, to put it simply, says he has to make it up as he goes along, that in the end is what he is, before, while, and after he calls himself an existentialist, and why the leaders of the left, appointed and self-appointed, official and alternative, however libertarian they claim to be, rubbish it.

Sartre rejects the role of the remote pre-war intellectual, the role of the remote mandarin that de Beauvoir describes in her 1954 novel of Paris after the liberation, rejects literature for radio, film, tv, the papers. He makes mistakes, it's hard not to in the rancid world of personal grudges, blackmail, score settling, punishment killing, of post-liberation Paris, like everyone.

If you believe in hierarchies of left winger, of socialist, of anarchist, you might think he's an amateur, he's a writer after all, but I don't. It's pointless to admire and distinguish, he doesn't have any heroes, there's no need to admire him, or put him on a pedestal, he writes the odd book that's good, a few bad ones, and as he says, is ready to disown them before the ink's dry.

I could wish he had written more fiction. Literature is shit, he tells de Beauvoir, and in a sense that's true, most books are 'a load of crap', as Larkin puts it in A Study of Reading habits, the whole lot isn't worth one starving child, as Sartre says somewhere else, but the same is true of philosophy, journalism, non-fiction, film, radio, tv, music in a hierarchical world.

There is more freedom, more truth in fiction, it seems to me, little though some people may use it, and I like Sartre's fiction more than his non-fiction, like I like most people's fiction more than their non-fiction. But on that, I think, he and I would disagree.

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Jan 11 2014 22:32
The Pontefract Anarchist wrote:
he doesn't have any heroes

Oh, I don't know about this. He did describe Che Guevara, a leader of Castro's vicious state capitalist regime, as "not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age."

Battlescarred
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Jan 12 2014 11:11
Entdinglichung wrote:
there were two Maoisms in France, the anti-revisionists who had their roots among older members of PCF (PCMLF, PCML, etc.) and those who emerged out of the splits of the PCF's student org UEC (especially many who were students of Althusser, another wing of the UEC became the Mandelite Trotskyiste JCR) around 1965 who became Gauche prolétarienne, Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (Badiou's gang), Vive la révolution or OCT, the latter never bought the full maoist program and were very much shaped by the influence of 1968 ... to my perception, they weren't that different from e.g. Lotta Continua

When I lived in France these 2 breeds of Maoism were referred to as "Mao-sponta" and "Mao-Stal" amongst leftsist and anarchists

factvalue
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Jan 13 2014 16:13

The Pontefract Anarchist wrote:

Quote:
He breaks with the pretence that is objectivity.

I'm not sure what you mean here. Are you talking about epistemic or ontological objectivity? Are you claiming that he has abolished such things as the size of someone's shoes, which is epistemically objective, or does he no longer believe in the existence of Antarctica, which is ontologically objective? And anyway, isn't he expressing himself continually in the epistemically objective rules of rational communication? And isn't the icey continent really there whether or not 'Being' exists? Sartre's 'anarchism' seems to have this solipsistic relativism in common with Feyerabend's 'anarchism' in Against Method as well as being in on the ground floor of a lot of postmodernist withdrawal into and celebration of fragmentation, nihilism and apathy. He looks to be conflating Kant's 'thing-in-itself' with objective reality. He's a sort of disappointed metaphysical realist.

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Jan 15 2014 14:00

There is no pre-existing meaning, no meaning for all, pre-existing or chosen. He can describe, but can provide no common description, and he cannot explain. There is no compulsion to see, think, do one way or another, no authority to bow the knee to or appeal to.

The world is what it is, he can describe his individual experience of it, his alienation, freedom, from it, but more than that he cannot say. He cannot capture, own, possess it, put it in order, name it, systematize it, he makes no pretence that he can be objective.

He rejects then "l'esprit de sérieux", the attempt to mystify reality, to confuse the ideal with the real, rejects the claim to have escaped from subjectivity, the playing at God, rejects the flight from freedom, rejects the refusal of personal responsibility, subordination to the cause.

Without a reason to act one way or another, if you view things from the standpoint of eternity, "it amounts to the same thing whether one gets drunk alone, or is a leader of nations", but you don't have to, and the freedom to choose how, to what extent, whether you play the game remains.

He writes, speaks, acts for his own time, will praise Guevara after he is murdered by the Bolivian state one day, speak out against the homophobia of the Cuban regime another. He likes to épater la bourgeoisie, understands very well the effect what he says will have on that audience.

But he doesn't, I don't think, find it necessary to participate, to enter the system, to play the absurd game that is politics when it is no longer necessary. He says, does everything he considers he has to say and do, and no more.

"I am neither virgin nor priest enough to play with the inner life," writes Roquentin in La Nausée, though I do wonder at times. There is something mystical about Sartre's negative thinking in places, a kind of kenosis going on, a liberation of sorts.

Even if he is still sat there ticketless on the train with the inspector waiting for the end of the line where there's nobody waiting for him.

factvalue
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Jan 15 2014 21:18

He believed in an intuitive notion of 'essential truth' which he thought people created from their own actions by continually assigning meaning to them, like small children running in circles pretending to be planes. But this wasn't his only reason for rejecting 'objectivity', there was also the matter of what he thought it meant. He confused Kantian ideas of a priori logical structures with the categories the sciences use to understand objective reality because he was trapped in the idea that the only version of universal objective categories that are even possible are Plato's 'Forms'. Since 'Forms' didn't fit into his intuitive epistemology of 'essential truths' as the private creations of individuals - whatever the fuck that means - objectivity, or at least Sartre's notion of it obviously had to go. But children turn into grown ups, and some of them have been able to do a little bit more than just run in circles with their arms out pretending to be spaceships going to the moon, and in my experience this elephantine body of objective knowledge sits rather absurdly on the end Sartre's little phenomenological chaise lounge.

EDIT: The idea that you can create your own truth just from your actions, apart from sounding like kids revealing the truth about the tooth fairy from their actions at bedtime, is just the usual phenomenological inclusion of the person's perspective within the ontology and leads naturally on to relativism or even scepticism about the objective status of the physical world. But at this stage in history (taken as objectively real rather than data organised into self-enclosed regimes of truth or colliding narratives etc.) when there is so much accumulated human knowledge about THE objective world (how could we have gone to the moon and back if there in fact are billions of different 'essential truths' about billions of different moons existing within billions of phenomenological operators) how can anyone take this kind of thing seriously?

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Noah Fence
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Jan 15 2014 17:36

I want my mummy!

backspace
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Jan 15 2014 17:48
Entdinglichung wrote:
there were two Maoisms in France, the anti-revisionists who had their roots among older members of PCF (PCMLF, PCML, etc.) and those who emerged out of the splits of the PCF's student org UEC (especially many who were students of Althusser, another wing of the UEC became the Mandelite Trotskyiste JCR) around 1965 who became Gauche prolétarienne, Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (Badiou's gang), Vive la révolution or OCT, the latter never bought the full maoist program and were very much shaped by the influence of 1968 ... to my perception, they weren't that different from e.g. Lotta Continua

A useful history of investigatory work (influenced by the Red Notes journal from Italy) performed by UJCml members was published recently:
1, 2

On the 1968 influence - I heard a talk giver say that the UJCml took a line toward the events, at the time they were happening, that amounted to completely ignoring the occupations laugh out loud

factvalue
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Jan 15 2014 17:58

I want my mummy!

That might be true for you but I don't want mine, I hate that bitch.

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Jan 15 2014 21:24

Hey, wise guys, any insights into the philosophy and politics of Simone de Beauvoir?

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Noah Fence
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Jan 15 2014 21:57
rat wrote:
Hey, wise guys, any insights into the philosophy and politics of Simone de Beauvoir?

Easy peasy. Here you go http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simone_de_Beauvoir
Job's a good un.

nominal9
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Jan 15 2014 22:50
factvalue wrote:
The Pontefract Anarchist wrote:
Quote:
He breaks with the pretence that is objectivity.

I'm not sure what you mean here. Are you talking about epistemic or ontological objectivity? Are you claiming that he has abolished such things as the size of someone's shoes, which is epistemically objective, or does he no longer believe in the existence of Antarctica, which is ontologically objective? And anyway, isn't he expressing himself continually in the epistemically objective rules of rational communication? And isn't the icey continent really there whether or not 'Being' exists? Sartre's 'anarchism' seems to have this solipsistic relativism in common with Feyerabend's 'anarchism' in Against Method as well as being in on the ground floor of a lot of postmodernist withdrawal into and celebration of fragmentation, nihilism and apathy. He looks to be conflating Kant's 'thing-in-itself' with objective reality. He's a sort of disappointed metaphysical realist.

...

factvalue.... you and I could get into some fairly involved "technical" discussions on this... HAR...
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/humanities/2YYdPcw5_XE
here's a link to a very rudimentary explanation of my own "thinking" method... if the link goes to point. I call it "thematic dialectic logic"... I particularly ask your opinion of the "thinking tools"... they are standard (although put to my own different use) to Aristotle.....and William of Ockham....I sort of agree with your overall distinction between Ontology and Epistemology... but maybe in a different way
Epistemology

Idealist.................................Realist
Conceptus /Res....................Conceptus /Res
Subjective / Subjective...........Objective / Objective
(square here)

Nominalist. ...........................Phenomenologist
Conceptus / Res....................Conceptus /Res
Subjective /Objective...............Objective / Subjective

Ontology.... think logical "cubes"... where the Conceptus is a double dose of the combinations of Fact vs. Fancy... and the Res is a double dose of the combinations of Manifest vs. Conceal over a two part "language" sign.....it takes a while, but it makes some sort of sense or nonsense, to me at least.....

factvalue
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Jan 16 2014 10:34

rat wrote:

Quote:
Hey, wise guys, any insights into the philosophy and politics of Simone de Beauvoir?

Why not start first and we'll join in thou wily, sage-like rodent?

The Pontefract ...
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Jan 16 2014 22:09

The argument of de Beauvoir's Le Deuxième Sexe is roughly along these lines (I apologise for the length of this, but it is all my own work, and I don't think shortening it's a good idea).

Although, because of their part in reproduction, women may be more subordinated to the needs of the species than men, although women may, in this society, develop a very different psychology from that of men, and although an understanding of the historical, economic, and political development of human society may help us to see how inequality has arisen between women and men, neither the data of biology, nor the dogmas of psychoanalysis, nor again, the theory of historical materialism, are sufficient either to explain why it is that woman's situation has been, and is still, that of a being condemned to second place, or to to determine either that this state of affairs is natural, inevitable, and eternal, as anti-feminist biologists and psychoanalysts would have us believe, or that it will inevitably disappear, as is the contention of the more crudely economically determinist historical materialists.

It is, of course, true that women's situation in the world has been affected by the degree of their economic independence, and by the nature of the social, economic, and political changes that have made up history: the low-level neo-equality of the nomadic period of human history gave way, as the institutions of private property and marriage were first invented with the coming of a settled agricultural way of life, and then elaborated in patriarchal and classical times, to the refined slavery of the mediaeval and 'enlightened' age, which was only alleviated by the advent of the French Revolution, 'gainful employment', and the vote, but although it is clear that in this society only socially, economically, and politically independent women can even aspire to any degree of concretely realized freedom, it would be wrong to regard even the most careful historical historical analysis nas evidence of more than the fact that women have been oppressed to a greater or lesser extent at all times and in all places. The historical materialist can provide neither justifications nor explanations, and they must be sought elsewhere.

Men have, in a confused mixing of fear and idolatry, constructed a multi-faceted and contradictory myth of woman which has mad of her a dependent inactive 'other', denied transcendent projects, and thus condemned to 'wallow in her immanence'. The various individual myths and taboos that make up this greater myth, and that are reflected in the custom and law of human society, whether they concern woman's body, her sexuality, or her proper place in the world, are expressions of this will on the part of man to see her as 'other', and thus inferior, and as more or less than human, which amounts to the same thing, constituting spurious justification for the maintenance of her oppression, though it, finally at least, benefits neither 'sex'.

The Pontefract ...
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Jan 16 2014 22:10

For modern literature, except perhaps in the best of Stendhal's romantic realist portraits, woman remains a mythical creature: in Montherlant she is a contemptible object inspiring disgust, in the work of DH Lawrence she is the passive recipient of the benefits bestowed upon her by a man proud of his phallus, in Claudel she is the self-sacrificing dupe of a filthy catholicism that makes of her the handmaid of the Lord, and in Breton she is poetry incarnate, the death of rationalism, and the salvation of the world.

At home, at school, in her play, in her study, and later on in life, in her work, and in her sexual initiation, the situation of the young girl is more complicated and more difficult than that of the young boy. The 'crises' of puberty and adolescence are exacerbated by the demand of society that she conform to its codes of respectable dress and behaviour, and she is left a garçon manqué, doomed, except to some degree in the cases of the lesbian and the independent professional, to the boring sterility of a life of marriage (and adultery), motherhood (and abortion), housework (and social suffocation), and prostitution (whether to a husband or a stranger), which will make of her an 'eternal child', condemned to a bitter and cynical, but still impotent, maturity and old age.

Her character is, that is to say, perverted, and, denied hope of transcendence, she seeks, in narcissism, to make a life out of self-love, in all-consuming love of another, to justify herself in self-destructive abasement, and in mysticism, to compensate for the imperfections of this life in devotion to the Lord of another, imaginary, world.

Women are, in this society, with the connivance of their mothers, their mentors, and the economic, social, legal, and political authorities, imprisoned in the domestic sphere, condemned to sub-standard education, discriminated against both by the law, and in the workplace, and denied full knowledge of their bodies and sexuality. Whether they take the traditional paths of marriage and motherhood or strive for independence, they remain slaves, whether they be prey of gildedd idleness or overwork, and it is only in the complete economic equality of all, and in the transcendence that is true creativity, that they, and men, can, when women are better taught, fully equal in the sight of the law, and provided for by the state in matters such as child care, and when work becomes more than mere servile drudgery, achieve any degree of personal fulfilment.

When they are both free, woman and man may, at last, be able, in the free union of free beings, to rise above the perversion of their economic, social, political, and erotic relationship that is history's legacy for them, and to realize, in this their only world, that understanding of their common humanity that makes of them the same stuff.

RedHughs
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Jan 17 2014 07:41

Can I just add that not only were Satre's politics the conventionally vile politics of the French CP, his apology is entirely conventional as well. Every clever opportunist said they deplored the authoritarianism and that they were working from the inside to change things.

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Entdinglichung
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Jan 17 2014 09:22
backspace wrote:
Entdinglichung wrote:
there were two Maoisms in France, the anti-revisionists who had their roots among older members of PCF (PCMLF, PCML, etc.) and those who emerged out of the splits of the PCF's student org UEC (especially many who were students of Althusser, another wing of the UEC became the Mandelite Trotskyiste JCR) around 1965 who became Gauche prolétarienne, Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (Badiou's gang), Vive la révolution or OCT, the latter never bought the full maoist program and were very much shaped by the influence of 1968 ... to my perception, they weren't that different from e.g. Lotta Continua

A useful history of investigatory work (influenced by the Red Notes journal from Italy) performed by UJCml members was published recently:
1, 2

On the 1968 influence - I heard a talk giver say that the UJCml took a line toward the events, at the time they were happening, that amounted to completely ignoring the occupations laugh out loud

true ... they started intervening in factories only after the May but then very vigorous which at least two of their members, Gilles Tautin and Pierre Overney paid with their lives ... many leading members of GP like Glucksmann and Henri-Levi became right-wingers or like July and Geismar social democrats after 1973, the editor of the "Black Book of Communism", Stephane Courteois was a leading member of Vive la révolution

Battlescarred
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Jan 23 2014 16:30

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iW74PnBIGo

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plasmatelly
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Jan 23 2014 22:44

Deleted: I think I've gone mad.

Battlescarred
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Jan 23 2014 23:25

Puts fingers to lips and thrums them up and down...

infektfm
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Jan 24 2014 02:44

Sartre was certainly flawed in more respects than I can count -- still, I do find many useful kernels of insight in his body of work.

Battlescarred
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Mar 21 2014 09:10

Jonathan Fenby in France on the Brink “. . . one French literary historian remarked acidly of the country’s most famous post-war couple; ‘On 11 August 1944, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir entered the Resistance, at the same moment as the Paris police.’