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Jean-Francois Lyotard introduced the term "postmodern" into current discussions within philosophy, politics, society and social theory. His "The postmodern condition" is seminal within the current debates over the relationship of theory and epistemology to history and political practice. For Lyotard, the postmodern condition is one in which the "meta- narratives of legitimation" the enlightenment, Hegelian thought, Marxism have fallen into disuse and can no longer analyze myriad labyrinthine social texts that have been forged from their ruins. Meta- narratives assume the role of privileged discourses not inflected by historical contingencies, and each situate local social and political practices within a broader totalizing and legitimizing framework. Lyotard claims that various local practices can no longer be legitimized by these meta-discourses; legitimation itself descends to the level of praxis as practitioners assume the responsibility for legitimizing their own practices.; "Political writings" is a collection of Lyotard's writings mostly published between 1956 and 1969 in "Socialisme ou Barbarie", the influential journal of the non-Communist French left. The political Motivation Implicit In Lyotard's Arguments In "The Postmodern Condition" become quite explicit in this collection. The articles outline the relevance of political struggles to contemporary debates about social and political theory; the limitations of Marxist models applied to concrete situations; and the development of the analytical categories that Lyotard himself currently uses in his critical practices.; In a rigorous examination of the strategies and passions of various groups, Lyotard demonstrates that the emancipatory models at work in specific local struggles are different from the universalist ones proposed by the Enlightenment, occurring as they do in First World and Third World Contexts In Which Specificity And Difference Are Negotiated And Determined.
against what they believe to be the destiny that the solution of an “association” that de Gaulle wants to impose holds for them. They believe, in effect (and they are no doubt correct; the example of Tunisia and Morocco proves it), that such an association will oblige them to share their jobs with the Algerians, and that thus many of them will be obliged to expatriate themselves, to come to France to find work. Transposed on Algerian soil, that is, with the whole colonialist content inherent in
the right to keep an eye on the “full effectiveness of the aid and its allocation to the objects for which it was granted.” It will hardly be surprising if in these conditions the question of employment will no more be resolved in the city than in the countryside. The Ten Year Plan provides for more than a doubling of nonagricultural full-time employment. Meanwhile, taking demographic growth into account, there will remain 140,000 underemployed at the end of the period (versus 200,000 figured at
carried out. This is the immense difference between the movement and the fringe groups [groupuscules]. The latter remain within the order of discourse; all verbalized transgressions can be absorbed by the system; the system incorporates a purely verbal critique within itself. Any word can be said around a committee table, can be made the object of a negotiation, of an arbitration. The transgression in deed can only scandalize; it constitutes a nonrecuperable critique; it makes a hole in the
moments in order to encounter man. One's self is only there to protect no man and to keep guard around one's land. It does not mean that one is irresponsible because one does not have to answer to others for what happens in this secret region. All that this means is that the secret life does not happen by means of questions and answers. It is not something to be argued for. Nina Berberova has her narrator say that these moments “serve to guard the general line.” The “general line” is not the line
by which the system is confronted and that it needs in order to improve itself. Thus, the discourse that Marxists called the bourgeois discourse of emancipation and the communal organization connected with it, that is, liberal “late” capitalism, now look like the only survivors and winners after two centuries of struggle that sought to impose another way of reading and leading human history. This system has good reasons to claim to be the true sup- -114- -115- 2 porter of human rights and