Bert Olivier
Bert Olivier

Jacques Ranciére – the philosopher of equality

It was about time that someone restored equality to its rightful place in the constellation of philosophical concepts, after decades of the valorisation of “difference” in various forms. And who better than a citizen of the country that gave us the battle-cry, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!”

Jacques Ranciére is that person, and refreshingly – in a manner reminiscent of Wittgenstein’s remark, that “every sentence is in order as it stands” – he argues in favour of the “equality” of everyone in a relationship of intellectual, linguistic exchange of some sort, or of a broadly political nature (without reducing it to sameness, however).

Instead of a “hermeneutics of depth”, which presupposes a master who “knows”, he conducts an analysis of what is “on the surface”, which is accessible to everyone. In the process of recuperating the concept of “equality”, Ranciére implicitly gives an answer to the question about the character of “enlightenment” in the present era, with an emphasis on praxis, rather than theory.

In other words, even those people who lack what is regarded as “expert knowledge” of a subject, are capable of making some kind of sense of it, and are therefore equal partners or interlocutors in a conversation on the subject.

There is no basis for establishing hierarchical relations of any kind, linguistic or political – as many historical examples show, the “masses” are quite capable of speaking for themselves, or acting in their own interests, when push comes to shove.

The alliance between intellectuals and workers during the May 1968 struggles in France, for example, saw workers eschew the prescribed routes of communication, namely between unions and employers, and effect change immanently through collective political “shop-floor” action – something also witnessed locally in the Marikana events, recently, when workers circumvented union structures in an attempt to express their grievances.

In all such events, paradoxically, the principle of “equality” has to be presupposed, in so far as what is truly “political” manifests itself here, in the rupture that such events bring about with the ostensibly self-evident social and political order of what (usually, as in the present) amounts to oligarchic rule by specific groups and individuals.

Another way of putting this involves Ranciére’s critique of the so-called “consensus” politics of liberal democracies, or what he calls the “police” (not in the ordinary sense of the term) notion of consensus.

Against this, Ranciére argues in favour of “dissensus” – political acts and practices that bring the “invisible equality”, covered up by frozen hierarchical relations and social distinctions, into visibility.

In fact, he understands politics as dissensus, as the process of bringing into confrontation the unequal world of “the police” and the world of equality.

The former is the world where the inauguration of democracy (from “de-mos”) through the elusive universal of equality has always already been forgotten and covered up by hierarchical class interests, while the latter is the excluded world which can be approximated anew through political actions of dissensus that light up new possibilities of participatory, egalitarian community.

In such actions equality appears as a force capable of destabilizing the established order and of simultaneously generating new democratic forms.

If “politics” is a term which, according to Ranciére, should be reserved for genuinely democratic action, practice or societal organisation, it is distinct from other forms of societal arrangement, and the criterion for distinguishing between the genuine thing and those exclusionary practices that masquerade as democracy is equality.

Ranciére designates such exclusionary practices as belonging to “the police”, a concept (mentioned earlier) representing those organisational structures which maintain the illusion of universal, free access of all people to participation in all aspects of community life.

To clarify Ranciére’s thought on these matters, which is sometimes difficult to follow, here is an excerpt from the first (and, as far as I know, at present only) introductory text on his work in English, by Joseph J. Tanke (Jacques Ranciére: An Introduction, Continuum, 2011: 43):

“The de-mos is a political subject inasmuch as it is capable of exceeding and thereby undermining the police’s accounting. Whereas the police defines the polis as unified [a fiction] and whole, politics consists of contesting the very definition of the community. The part of those without part [the de-mos] is a construction that disturbs the city’s logic of counting by inscribing within it an agent not reducible to one of the existing factions.

“The de-mos, in whatever period it finds itself, is that collective subject that comes into being by resisting the attempt of the few to apportion for themselves the rights to direct the community. In order to gain visibility, it contests the assumptions about who belongs, what capacities they possess, and what roles they can occupy.

“According to Ranciére, the means by which the de-mos achieves this is equality … politics is not, for Ranciére, understandable as a negotiation between the competing interests of already existing parties. Politics is a rupture of this mode of being together that occurs through the assertion of universal equality…Politics is resistance to the domination resulting from the exclusion from ‘politics.'”

Or, in Ranciére’s own words (in Dissensus, Continuum, 2010, Chapter One):

“The essence of the police lies in a partition of the sensible that is characterised by the absence of void and of supplement: society here is made up of groups tied to specific modes of doing, to places in which these occupations are exercised, and to modes of being corresponding to these occupations and these places … It is this exclusion of what ‘is not’ that constitutes the police-principle at the core of statist practices. The essence of politics consists in disturbing this arrangement.”

Needless to emphasise, and as perceptive readers may gather from this very brief evocation of but one aspect of Ranciére’s uncompromisingly difficult thinking (he has also written extensively on art, and on the intertwinements of art and politics, as well as on cinema) it is radical stuff.

And it is bad news for all those politicians who continually get away with murder, as it were, bamboozling their unwitting supporters into believing that the divisions between them (political “representatives” and their constituencies, or, more accurately, rulers and ruled) constitute the very fabric of democratic politics, instead of instantiating the totalising order of what Ranciére calls the “police”, with its supposedly unproblematical (sic), virtually unquestionable hierarchical divisions between “those who decide” and those who have no option but to accept these decisions.

But as recent history has shown in South Africa, “politics” in Ranciére’s sense of the term can, and sometimes does, irrupt (enter abruptly and violently) on the scene which has been pre-structured by the “police”, forcing its agencies to return to the drawing boards, as it were, to reinforce the exclusion of “the part that has no part”, but which will not go away either.

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    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com Garg Unzola

      Wonder what he would make of the ‘debate’ on creationism? To many who are not experts but only superficially schooled in the topic, it appears like there’s legitimate scientific doubt cast on the theory of evolution.

    • Maria

      That’s an interesting musing, Garg – I don’t know about Bert, but I would say that JR’s concept of equality implies that no one who subscribes to creationism is incapable, intellectually, of grasping the theory of evolution, nor is an evolutionist unable to understand the claims of creationism. Their grounds for differing have to do with something other than intelligence per se (presumably there are some intelligent creationists), but rather with religious ideology on the part of creationists, which springs from what Kristeva refers to as the deep-seated need “to believe”. I know too little about Ranciere to know how he would answer your question, though.

    • Juju Esq.

      Whew, I am no academic nor philosopher but the gist of Bert’s above article is very refreshing.

      It sounds as if Ranciére is somewhat of an Anarchist?

      Anarchism fascinates me. One of my favorite authors Noam Chomsky is an Anarchist, or also describes himself a Libertarian Socialist, I found this interesting:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism

    • Juju Esq.

      Eureka, I found it on Google:

      “Among recent French thinkers, only Rancière has been willing to align his thought with the term anarchism. (Foucault, for instance, a thinker one might consider anarchist at least in inspiration, dismisses the movement with this brief gesture equating it with a racist form of biopower[3]) Only Rancière has been willing not only to reject the Marxist spectre which hovers over progressive European thought, but to refer in a positive way to the tradition that, during most of the twentieth century, was thought to have been left to the dustbin of history. With a return to anarchism in political action and more recently in political thought, Rancière’s gesture of embrace is both timely and deserving of reflective attention. He has much to offer contemporary anarchism, and his thought can itself be better understood in dialogue with that renewed tradition.”

      See More: “Rancière and Anarchism”
      http://postanarchistgroup.net/?page_id=353

      :-)

    • HD

      Hmm, not sure how radical this is – strikes a libertarian like myself as fairly obvious in terms of democracy, the state (rule of law) and rule by the political class (power).

      What Ranciere doesn’t specify is how his egalitarian order would function differently? Just three thinks of the top of my head: (i) how would it deal with consensus / legitimacy (reality is people disagree on values/goals) (ii) how will it give voice to everyone in this new community without in the end still empowering intellectual elites / groups (iii) how will this system remain “equal”?

      One of the best criticism that critical political theorist like Geuss, Dunn, Galston and Williams and other political philosophers of the realist bend make against liberalism is its assumption of “political legitimacy” and “liberal consensus”. The reality is that people often disagree even over the most basic principles and values – never mind how best to give effect to them…

      I would think the same criticism would apply to notions of “equality” and that there would be simple “consensus” and a resulting political order which could easily secure “political legitimacy” around this topic.

      I think Ranciere is correct in his conceptualisation of politics and polic(ing) by the state/ruling class – but his own system doesn’t specific how it would transcend the political – politics is coercion and often the only way to establish political order / legitimacy (at least according to realists).

    • jandr0

      Hhmm: “… forcing its agencies to return to the drawing boards, as it were, to reinforce the exclusion of “the part that has no part”, but which will not go away either.”

      So how different is that from Hegelian dialectics (abstract-negative-concrete) or that of Frankfurt School, say Adorno’s non-identity thinking?

      @Juju Esq: Thanks for the links. I know you wanted to pack me into a convenient little box (for you) labelled “Tea Party” in another post (FWIW, I actually dislike them), but at the moment I am exploring panarchism.

      Probably my scepticism regarding collectivism and equality stem from reading “Scaramouche” by Rafael Sabatini (talk about the “easily, movable crowd!”) when I was hardly ten years old, but my experiences afterwards just reinforced my view that collectivism is often just “the supposedly fair grown-up version of horny teenager peer pressure groups.”

    • jandr0

      @Garg: I’d be interested in the “legitimate scientific doubt” you mention.

      Of course, there is the angle that religion (creationism) does not comfortably cater for doubt, whereas science (evolution) explicitly provides for “legitimate scientific doubt” (fallibilism, scientific method).

      PS. Regarding religion, creationism and evolution, I really enjoy Bertrand Russel’s comparison of teleological versus mechanistic explanation, where he ends up saying:

      “Neither question can be asked intelligibly about reality as a whole (including God), but only about parts of it. As regards the teleological explanation, it usually arrives, before long, at a Creator, or at least an Artificer, whose purposes are realized in the course of nature. But if a man is so obstinately teleological as to continue to ask what purpose is served by the Creator, it becomes obvious that his question is impious. It is, moreover, unmeaning, since, to make it significant, we should have to suppose the Creator created by some super-Creator whose purposes He served.”

      “A not dissimilar argument applies to mechanistic explanations. One event is caused by another, the other by a third, and so on. But if we ask for a cause of the whole, we are driven again to the Creator, who must Himself be uncaused. All causal explanations, therefore must have an arbitrary beginning.”

      As the saying goes: It is turtles all the way down…

    • Richard

      Is this not only partially true? Economics, for example, in specifics – think of modelling extraction from, and diffusion into, the generative power of the populace – is quite a complex subject (for starters, the technicalities of taxation, money-supply, borrowing, and the short-term/long-term divide, to name just four) on which the general public cannot reasonably be expected to comment with perspicacity. In general terms, though, I think this analysis is very cogent, and metaphorically similar to the unending issue of transport infrastructure, most specifically the motor-car/train dichotomy. This is quite clearly demonstrated in crowded, developed, societies.
      Trains are akin to individual sectors of the economy, each of which is delineated a particular route and driver, the driver being the specialist who can get the particular collective to the terminus (comparable to a particular sector of society, say) safely and timeously. The great array of routes and drivers is emblematic of the complexity of societal productivity and social role. However, the train company (in a capitalist society we will assume there to be several train companies; however, they do not compete for precisely the same economic collection of passengers, since each must specialise in certain – and not generally overlapping – routes) is always seeking to improve profit (power- relation clarity) and so removes routes from time-to-time to this end.

    • Richard

      contd 1: The passengers accustomed to taking the now-axed routes must adapt themselves to similar, but not identical, routes, in order to reach the terminus. Indeed, some, like these, who appear to have a part, in fact have no part: people who place themselves into unsatisfactory parallel routes in order to reach the terminus. These people, and those who live far from a railway line, have common cause to reject the routes that are maintained by the transport authority (some sort of infrastructure maintenance body) and such people may decide to take private transport, rather than attempting to change the system from within, as the railway company might prefer. Through taking to the road in this way, the system is (politically) challenged by those who are excluded.
      Eventually, if sufficient people take private transport, that becomes one of the recognised routes to the terminus that is of importance to the whole body politic. Suitable regulation and taxation can then be implemented. In time that may give rise to a new train route in order to bring the disaffected back within the railway system. This is much like what the English language does: it simply appropriates words and concepts found elsewhere if it does not have them indigenously. Eventually these may be regulated by having their spelling and pronunciation altered.

    • Richard

      contd 2: Capitalist economics provides the mechanism for people to remove themselves from the entrenched system and yet still reach the terminus. This is because reaching the terminus is what is considered primary (in other words, making money) rather than the precise method of travel. The political structures are always at least one step behind in such political collectives: in such societies, politics regulates rather than directs.

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com Garg Unzola

      @Maria:
      Yes, that’s how I understood it too. Which is why I disagree with Ranciére as presented here: Some people are intellectually incapable of understanding certain concepts. Our views are not mutually exclusive. The likes of Stephen Jay Gould fall into your category. By all indications, Gould was capable of understanding evolution and capable of understanding the sociobiogy notions that was anathema to him. He chose to support religious apologetics and chose to reject sociobiology due to his political inclinations, despite evidence to the contrary. Not all of his objections are unfounded, though, but he would be more in line with how I understand Ranciére’s notion that anyone has something to add.

      There are also those who cannot comprehend certain concepts, which in turn implies some kind of intellectual hierarchy. I think Ranciére had to do away with intellectual hierarchy in an effort to discredit all hierarchies. This to protect his notion of equality. Suffice to say that if a kind of radicalism is needed to enforce his brand of equality, the nature of his equality becomes questioned. Enforcing equality is also tyranny.

    • john patson

      Does Ranciére’s “poice” not bear a striking similarity to Gramsci’s “hegemonic alliance”, so beloved of a certain section of South African society in the 1980s as a way of explaining all society’s ills?
      It is interesting his use of the 1968 workers, or more specifically Parisian workers as they were the only ones who counted — one week they were out on the streets in support of the students, and a fortnight later they were out on the streets in support of De Gaulle.
      Dissensus in action.
      For the South African “police” though the trouble is finding a De Gaulle.

    • Juju Esq.

      @jandr0

      Wow, that is interesting!!! You don’t like the American Tea Party, you just support the same free market fundamentalism they do (same post you referred to above). Interesting contradiction.

    • http://www.bolobolo.co.za Aragorn Eloff

      @Juju Esq.: Todd May (the author of the seminal Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism) explores Ranciére’s anarchism (or near-anarchism, in my view) in his more recent book, The Political Thought of Jacques Ranciére (which he also discusses in this video: http://vimeo.com/48436674).

      One of the important things Ranciére does in his work is to point out what could be termed ‘the injustice of representation’. This is something anarchists are also concerned with (which is why, for example, they’re anti-vanguardist and argue that the liberation of the oppressed should be the task of the oppressed themselves), and also something touched on by other poststructuralist philosophers.

      I’m reminded, for instance, of a conversation between Deleuze and Foucault, where Deleuze notes that his friend teaches us “something absolutely fundamental: the indignity of speaking for others.”

      http://libcom.org/library/intellectuals-power-a-conversation-between-michel-foucault-and-gilles-deleuze

      On the subject of intellectual equality, I highly recommend Ranciére’s ‘The Ignorant Schoolmaster’ (a book on early radical pedagogue Joseph Jacotot) as well as his ‘Nights of Labour’, which explores the surprising creativity and intelligence of the supposedly dull proletariat.

      @Garg: “There are also those who cannot comprehend certain concepts, which in turn implies some kind of intellectual hierarchy.”

      Ranciére argues that this is the result of domination, and…

    • http://www.bolobolo.co.za Aragorn Eloff

      @jandr0: “So how different is that from Hegelian dialectics (abstract-negative-concrete) or that of Frankfurt School, say Adorno’s non-identity thinking?”

      As far as I can tell, the difference is that Ranciére, like Foucault and co., thinks in terms of what exceeds a certain set of (dialectical) relations, or in terms of the productive power / agency of what is excluded by any particular ‘partitioning’ or arrangement. His is thus not a philosophy and politics of resolution or synthesis or whatever, but of radically democratic productive multiplicity (or ‘dehiscence’ – a term he occasionally uses).

    • Bert

      There are some very interesting remarks here – thank you all for that. What it says to me is that Ranciére’s thinking is relevant to some of the most important issues that face humanity today. A very perceptive observation from you regarding anarchism, JUJU Esq., and not at all surprising to find it confirmed in your research. If equality is the condition of the possibility of politics reasserting itself every so often in the face of the ‘police’, it means that the latter constitutes what normally passes for ‘government’, and the political ruptures effected by the de-mos in different guises from time to time – the French workers is only one among many instances – are manifestations of anarchistic ‘levelling of the playing fields’, as it were, where anarchistic self-governance, in defiance of the prevailing ‘consensual’ structures asserts itself before the police structures appear again. Your point about realist objections to liberal consensus is spot-on here, HD, except that I believe Ranciére adds something, namely that (apart from the fact that the term ‘consensus’ glosses over the many disagreements that persist, as you say) such so-called consensus is something already involving a self-fulfilling prophecy every time it occurs, because the consensus is never among irreducibly different individuals, or even truly diverse, representative groups, but between a limited number of ‘stakeholders’ who constitute an oligarchic bloc, despite appearances of difference.

    • Bert

      John Patson – yes, I believe you’re right about the resemblance between Gramsci and Ranciére in those respects, but again, Ranciére goes much further. I’ll write some more on him some time; what I said here is limited by word-count. Garg and Maria – interesting exchange. I should add that Ranciére is even critical – extremely so – of ‘expositions’ or ‘exegeses’, or ‘accounts’ of other people’s work (which is what I am doing here, in one sense) – he believes that his own work, just like any other person’s, should speak for itself. My main purpose is not an ‘exposition’, though (it’s too short, to begin with), but simply to bring his work to the attention of TL readers. I hope those among you who are sufficiently interested will explore his work further. (Written from an icy Korea – it was -16C in Seoul today, and Busan is not much warmer.)

    • jandr0

      @Juju Esq.: Wow, that is interesting! Subtle nuances just roar past you!

      Firstly: The Tea Party is NOT just about free markets. They are also about other things that I do not like. Is that so difficult for you to comprehend?

      Secondly: The Tea Party is also about a specific way of implementing free markets. I do not necessarily agree with their methods. Once again, is that so difficult for you to comprehend?

      It seems you are so shut up in your own little world of what is right, that really, why should someone as exalted as you even deign to waste time on critical differences?

      I mean: You have already decided for me what I am, and I AM WRONG! Jeez, I had better debates in primary school!

      Now:

      Did you enjoy the type of response I gave above? It sounds kind of personal and condescending. I don’t particularly favour it, but if it is used against me often enough, and I realise attempts at free, reasoned debate gets nowhere – then, yeah, I will use it back at those that seem to want no other way.

      Let me try once more: Please stop with the labelling. Engage in healthy debate.

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com/ Garg Unzola

      @Aragorn:
      So it’s a chicken and egg situation. How did the hierarchy come to assert itself? How did the dominion form in the first place? Of course this does not imply that a hierarchy or any kind of domination is necessarily legitimate, it just implies that hierarchy is inevitable. As is its flux, which would join with the commodification of revolutionary rhetoric.

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com/ Garg Unzola

      Back on the topic of intellectual equality: Many a frustrated maths teacher has relayed to me how they recommend some students to rather drop the subject. This because they are struggling too much and merely frustrating themselves when their talents lie elsewhere.

      There are two distinct cases here: One is where the students are able but do not manage for some reason. The other is where students are incapable to grasp a concept. The first case would merit an egalitarian kind of equality, whereas in the second case, it would not help much. There is famously no royal road to geometry.

      This is partly why notions of equality are limited to legal equality, as notions of equality beyond this tends to become inconsistent quickly.

    • Juju Esq.

      @jandr0

      You chose to bring up the Tea Party on this thread not me, so my response obviously touched on a sensitive nerve. I certainly do look forward to engaging in some healthy debate with you in the future.

    • http://www.bolobolo.co.za Aragorn Eloff

      @Garg: “So it’s a chicken and egg situation. How did the hierarchy come to assert itself? How did the dominion form in the first place? Of course this does not imply that a hierarchy or any kind of domination is necessarily legitimate, it just implies that hierarchy is inevitable.”

      I don’t think it follows from the historical existence of relations of hierarchy and domination that these are inevitable, just as it doesn’t follow from the historical existence of egalitarian, non-hierarchical indigenous cultures that anarchy is inevitable. Instead, the implication (for me anyway) is that we simply need a more radical (in the etymological sense, i.e., pertaining to the root) analysis of the specific arrangements and practices (or partitionings, or distributions) that give rise to and entrench these different types of relations so that we can work towards arrangements that are more radically democratic, both in the traditional sense and in the Ranciérean sense that they not only allow for fuller participation but also radically democratise the actual act of partitioning / arrangement (by getting rid of the police to as great a degree as possible, or, as the Zapatistas say, working towards a world in which many worlds can fit).

      And it’s more a vicious circle than chicken and egg: a lack of understanding leads to domination and domination leads to a lack of understanding…which is precisely the bind a Ranciérean politics seeks to extricate us from.

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com/ Garg Unzola

      @Aragorn:
      If you have evidence of historical, non-hierarchical, indigenous cultures, I would be interested. Rather, to me the evidence suggests hierarchical indigenous cultures, with even more rigid hierarchies, stretching all the way back to Neanderthals and the first cases of civilisations that grew beyond a couple of hundred people.

      It also appears to me that democracy is a fairly recent development as a standard and is a rather disappointing pipe dream as far as decision making goes. Fuller participation does not necessarily imply better decision making. Better here being judged by any standard you wish.

      The chicken and egg situation does have its roots in lack of understanding, but the nature of the lack of understanding is in question. Ranciére seems to suggest hierarchies have their root in keeping the lower classes ignorant. Taking creationists as an example: Many are highly educated people but they’ve chosen to be ignorant about evolution. They’re as informed as their peers, yet there is a clear hierarchy in their knowledge as far as being empirical or descriptive is concerned.

      Moreover, there is a real problem when trying to determine rank with more than three options regardless of decision making method. More participation yields more complexity (more preferences, more options) but does not necessarily equate to more satisfied individuals.

      See Arrow’s impossibility theorem.

    • Stuff

      @Garg

      “If you have evidence of historical, non-hierarchical, indigenous cultures, I would be interested.”

      Only a few days ago someone listed a number of non-hierarchical groups on Thoughtleader that function in today’s world. If I remember correctly, landless people movement in South America, cannot remember name. There were a number of others.

    • jandr0

      @Aragorn: Thanks for answer re dialectic vs Ranciere.

      @Garg: My readings mostly confirm the hierarchy you refer to: Contemporary cognitive theory seems to concur on the adult developmental approach, with world-wide research finding similar distributions of adult development.

      The most notable researchers I have explored are Piaget (obviously the “father” of cognitive development), Kohlberg, Perry, Loevinger, Basseches, Jacques, Torbert, Labouvie-Vief, King & Kitchener, Kegan, and Cook-Greuter.

      Many provide formal training in assessing individual adult’s developmental level, but the skill can also be acquired (to a lesser degree) via informal observation. I apply it in knowing how to relate to co-workers and clients. After a while you can actually sit in meetings (especially brain-storming or strategy sessions) and literally see how individuals at lower developmental levels completely miss related issues or complex, systemic interactions / dependencies / risks.

      The correlation I observe in commerce and industry between developmental level and organisational (hierarchical) position is remarkable. In government and politics it is MUCH less. An obvious conjecture would be that individual’s are being placed in positions that they are not yet ready for.

      In summary, everything I observe (admittedly subjective!) points to the fact that hierarchies relate to adult development, and that we are NOT all equal in cognitive capability.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      It was supposed to be about “Equal Pay for Egual Work” not “Equal Pay for NO Work”!

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com/ Garg Unzola

      @Stuff:
      Yes, that’s one example of an ineffective survival strategy. The San people are also a non-hierarchical group (they do have social status and a dominance strategy, but it’s not very pronounced). They’re also struggling to adapt to a changing environment, which is ultimately the test for successful survival strategies.

      @jandr0:
      Not counting the bureaucracies based on nepotism such as government and politics, you are describing the Peter principle.

      I am not familiar with your readings, I’m just speaking from observation in dealing with organisations. Specifically, in the software development world. I’ve worked in a scrum environment, which was designed to be hierarchy free. It proved to be extremely inefficient. In my current situation, there is a clear hierarchy, but not much red tape. I find this much more conducive to an effective decision-making environment.

      The fact that we are not equal in cognitive capability is a boon in the division of labour sense.

    • HD

      @Garg &Aragorn

      Arrow’s impossibility theorem – now there is some research that would challenge most concepts of deliberative democracy and other notions of participatory democracy.

      I think this type of approach is what a lot of people on the left (and right) need. Instead of being preoccupied with ideal theories of democracy and egalitarian social arrangements – in what direction does empirical studies of social behaviour point us? (Fishkin and List have tried to deal with social choice theory’s criticims, but classic liberals like Mark Pennigton have continued to cast doubts on the effectiveness of Habermasian models of deliberative democracy)

      How about having social theories that are grounded in reality. Here I think Hayek is especially instructive (see last few paragraphs, if not interested in the bigger debate about high liberalism):

      http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2012/06/market-democracy-and-dirty-ideal-theory/

      This for me connects strongly with the criticisms from the likes of Geuss:

      http://philosophybites.com/2010/05/raymond-geuss-on-realism-in-political-philosophy.html

      (Geuss thinks there is something to say about classic liberals like Hayek, but unfortunately havn’t delved deeply into his social theory)

      Pennington:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6aZ3sYQXgY

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Black Youth are weaned on books by Sol Plaatjies and Biko

      Unfortunately no contemporary of Sol Plaatjies ever wrote “Native Life in a Homeland” or “Native Life in a Bantustan” either before or post apartheid, which is actually where the vast majority of Blacks lived (and 1/3 still do live).

      Nor are ANY novels written by Blacks set in such Homelands/Bantustans.

    • Richard

      Might one enquire as to the purpose of the South Korean visit?

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Richard

      North Korea always throws some kind of tantrum when they are going broke and need more aid. Hadn’t you noticed?

    • stumpf

      m. garg
      no, there is no debate between evolution and creationism since evolutin says NOTHING about origin of life. it is a descriptive modelling of changes in forms. the rest is the ponr of religion
      as for non hierarchy, yes there is evidence, you can find in several publications by the agrarian studies school at Yale.
      for a quick summary check the books by J. Scott (e.g. ‘seeing like a state’)

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com Garg Unzola

      @Stumpf:
      That was precisely my point. There is no debate on evolution or even the theory of evolution, the evidence is there for evolution and there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that creationist ideas (like irreducible complexity, specified complexity or a fine-tuned universe) have any merit. My point being that this stands in contrast with the notion that anyone who is not an expert necessarily comes with the knowledge of praxis. Episteme and techne are not mutually exclusive and the absence of one does not imply the other. The proponents of creationism are for the most part adapt in both know-how and do-how, they’re just incapable of seeing the other side of the argument. They are not unique: This is the norm for our species.

      There appears to be an agenda in the anthropological community to inspire notions of noble savages living in agrarian egalitarian bliss, when evidence suggests that the ancient times were riddled with hierarchies asserting themselves. This often resulted in civilisations of monarchies effectively destroying themselves, with the exception of Greece which was a nation composed of decentralised city states due to its geography. This contributed to Greece becoming the de facto roots of civilisation, but even so the Greek culture had very clear hierarchies. Greece had its share of deserted kids of the wrong class and beaten slaves, which accentuates my other point: There is a reason why hierarchical systems prevailed.