By B.P. Dauenhauer
This number of essays attracts jointly paintings performed in the course of a interval of greater than fifteen years. during those years a lot has replaced, together with a lot approximately politics. styles of political job were trans shaped. ways that we have been familiar with construe politics were considerably converted and infrequently changed. a few it sounds as if in tractable conflicts were resolved. different, it sounds as if extra workable, conflicts have proven surprising sturdiness. a couple of political doctrines as soon as thought of indefinitely serviceable have misplaced all relevance. And the cloth and technical assets at our disposal glance strikingly assorted than they did quite a few years in the past. sensible politics of no matter what stripe encounters at each flip ever extra grave environmental degradation. yet, or so this assortment assumes, no longer every little thing political has replaced. a few political concerns, either "theoretical" and "practical," stay over and over trenchant. Questions just like the following call for ever renewed attention. what's the element and price of belonging to a political group? What entitlements and tasks persist with upon such club? or maybe extra essentially, what stipulations are required for there to be politics in any respect? Taken jointly, the essays accrued during this quantity suggest a manner either to appreciate and to interact in politics that is thoroughly responsive either to perennial political concerns and to the bizarre exigencies of our period. a few of them current criticisms of commonly held, warmly adored methods of addressing political issues. Others suggest optimistic possible choices.
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Precisely what Merleau-Ponty praises in Machiavelli is the latter’s recog nition that we need never be mere victims of fortuna, of some given political situation. 5 Thus, genuine politics requires not merely the acknowledgement of the weight of the determinate political situation, the language in which one finds oneself located, but also the risky endeavor to transform that situation, to revivify it by the exercise of virtu, the uttering of the new speech. Nothing, of course, guarantees ahead of time that the new political en deavor will either succeed or be appropriate.
And there is no political action which is radically divorced from discourse. Violence unmediated by discourse is not political action. But not all of political action is reducible to discourse, even though all political action is expressive. What I am concerned with here is this non-discursive expressivity ingredient in political action. This kind of expressivity, like discursive expressivity, cannot sensibly aspire to purity or perfection. Action indeed involves initiative but is it always an initiative whose out come is not completely determined by the initiator.
Any responsible political initiative, like any speech, must ac knowledge the irreducible complexity of the context against which it arises. 8 Thus, for example, capitalism cannot be regarded as unmitigated evil nor does Soviet Communism deserve simplistic, virulent denunciations. 9 The diachronic features of Merleau-Ponty’s political thought, however, introduce subtle but substantial modifications into this conclusion. 10 This fact is, of course, a necessary condition for any political initiative.
Elements of Responsible Politics by B.P. Dauenhauer