Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Power of the Unconscious

Now that Terri and JP are passed, and as the rampant, evil wave of fetus-murder continues to sweep our great nation, I thought I'd comment for a moment on the Right's peculiar vision of a "culture of life," vis-a-vis what kind of life the reactionaries valorize.

A List:

(Some) Bodies in Permanent Vegatative States
Small multi-cellular organisms in petri dishes

This list excludes people accused of crimes, foreigners, and the poor.

What separates the two groups is one simple characteristic: consciousness.

Fetuses (to a great extent, and for most of gestation), PVSers, and cute little stem cells/embryos, do not have what most people would consider consciousness. These puppies can't think in the way we ascribe to humans, and certainly can't talk. And that is exactly the kind of "life" the Right wants -- voiceless, thoughtless organisms. Given this paradigm, it is surprising that conservative America is so cavalier about their disdain for arctic animals, endangered species, etc. etc.

The Right's choice to defend only those human-esque organisms that are unconscious, or pre-conscious, and mute is telling. And it is a strategically brilliant choice. Through privatization, governmental opacity, and fake news, the Bush Administration has engaged in a continual attack on the public sphere. This is not one particular type of political ideology, but an implicit attack on politics as such, as it might be understood in a basal form -- the scene of the polis, the public place of conflict, information exchange, and dissent. The valorization of unconscious organisms continues this construction of fascism in two ways. The first is that the "life" that is cherished is not that life capable of perception of circumstances, reception of information, or dissent. The Right's beloved life is an entity that cannot be in and for itself political. It is an entity that is ultimately powerless -- not deprived of power, as the Right suggests in the Schiavo carnival, but never having come into power, never even knowing what power is.

This political exteriority exhibited by the organic phenomena the Right champions leads to the second benefit gained from such valorization. Since the entities the Right speaks about when they invoke the "culture of life" are mute and unconscious, these entities can be spoken for. Bereft of any political reality themselves, the non-voice of such organisms provides the perfect apolitical space in which the Right may speak. The words the Right intones are violent and unacceptable to many conscious lives. These lives cry out against the Right. But to counter this dissent, the Right speaks in the make-believe voice of the "life" they protect. By finding a spectral constituency which never was and cannot reject the appropriation of voices they do not have, the Right has discovered a register in which they can attack the public good, while pretending they are part of the public -- that they are still invested in the public's welfare. They are not. Realizing that they could not just speak for their own private benefit, the Right has convoked a phantom public in whose name they speak in order to shout down the voices of the living.


At 3:22 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Brilliant analysis Jeremy, seriously. You should write this up as a column for the Herald or YDN, it is just such an important and insightful point.

At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Antonin Artaud said...

Tribute of Morality

Descend into the maelstrom,
For though the wicked dead may speak in tongues
or sing of gold Atlantis,
by tooth and nail we've clung
like vermin at the pit of truth--

Bow off, bathe yourself--
The rotten fecundity of your larse ridden corpse will putrify into a fountain of upfloating maggots--

For an offering of flaming books,
the cramped illustrious blazons damply--for the refinements of your gentle voice, my Foucault,
oh how the lights upturn like the quick cut of a blade of glass!


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