Understanding the Chiapas Rebellion: Modernist Visions and the Invisible Indian

Understanding the Chiapas Rebellion: Modernist Visions and the Invisible Indian
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Bibliography and Interviews. Both meanings suggest a form of power which subjugates and makes subject to. But the problem is, precisely, to decide if it is actually suitable to place oneself within a 'we Neither will do. For empirical knowledge, like its sophisticated extension, science, is rational, not because it has a foundation but because it is a self-correcting enterprise which can put any claim in jeopardy, though not all at once.

Higgins is Lecturer in Global Politics at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and an independent documentary filmmaker. Every statement that is intended to describe or explain anything that happens in the world society is a theoretical statement. It is naive and superficial to try to discuss IR solely on the basis of the 'facts. They are chosen from a much bigger menu of available facts, because they are important. The question is: why are they important? And the answer to that is: because they fit a concept, the concept fits a theory and the theory fits an underlying view of the world.

Banks called these "underlying views" paradigms, breaking the discipline down into three: realism, structuralism, and pluralism. However, while such a move was intended to create new spaces and legitimacy for long-subjugated strands of thinking within the discipline consider, for example, the work of Mitrany and Deutscher , it could also be seen as running the risk of excluding those that are not, or cannot be, accommodated by the definition of norms peculiar to each paradigm. Just as Kuhn was aware of the implications of translation, which he saw as "always involving compromises which alter communication," so too has Michael Banks, by his adoption of a Kuhnian rhetoric outside of the Kuhnian context, altered the meaning that can be attached to the term "paradigm.

What they dispute, of course, are the terms that might legitimate the academic field of inquiry. Both thus believe that generalizations are possible, but they disagree over the terms of normalcy and the requirements of coherence and rigor for the social science of IR. Calling them "paradigms" or "appropriate research strategies" does not, however, alter the attempt to place parameters on the field of inquiry and thus set the agenda for present and future members of the IR community.

While such innovation has been widely welcomed as a useful teaching aid, the question remains, can IR really be said to have paradigms? Is there a set of disciplinary norms that can be identified as constituting the concerns of "normal" or "real" international relations? I have already mentioned the perils involved in such an identification process, and not surprisingly, Banks has had to face the criticism of those who feel they have been marginalized by his categorizations. Steve Smith thus castigates Banks for the introduction of the paradigm concept because "it anaesthetises the discipline by offering a 'pick and mix' solution, a superficial liberalism which implies that you can choose a paradigm which best explains the things you are interested in.

Nevertheless, undoubtedly Smith is right to recognize a new strand of thought in international relations that has, to a certain extent, out-maneuvered the early attempts, such as the three-paradigm debate, to open up the discipline. Postpositivism or postmodernism has, since the late s, attempted to introduce to international relations ways of thinking that not only take issue with realism but, to a large extent, take issue with international relations as an enlightenment practice in its own right.

Understanding the Chiapas rebellion : modernist visions and the invisible Indian

Postmodernism, borrowing Chris Brown's definition, is a body of thought that holds the belief that all the varieties of social and political thought dominant in the West since the Enlightenment—the discourses of modernity—are in crisis. As this belief is also shared by critical theorists, by whom I principally mean the followers of Jurgen Habermas and the Frankfurt school, a further distinction is necessary: postmodernists are antifoundationalist, while critical theorists believe new foundations can be constructed for their beliefs.

While we might accept these as working definitions, clearly there are a multitude of approaches within these two strands of theorizing. Rather than attempt a summary or assessment of these perspectives, I will instead locate my own position within this broad church of theory, or what I have previously suggested might best be viewed as a new critical pluralism for international relations. The attempt to provide extraneous justifications and foundations for what we know is what antifoundationalist philosopher Richard Rorty views as the epistemological and metaphysical quest of the Enlightenment.

This quest, he suggests, was captivated by the metaphor of philosophy as the "mirror of nature," and thus philosophical debates ever since have concerned the accuracy of representation to reality. This distinction, he claims, also continues to provide the basis for what in philosophy has become known as the correspondence theory of truth, a theory that holds that words or facts correspond to an "antecedently determinate" reality.

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For a scientist, or a social scientist, statements are only true or factual in this strict sense, insofar as they match the world. Truth is thus determined by its correspondence to the world. However, for this theory of truth to hold, a perspective from outside of "the world," what we can call the transcendental perspective, is vital. As a consequence, Nagel argues that only on the basis of a transcendental perspective can we feasibly make a claim to such a thing as objectivity.

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Without any such claim, our "normal" understanding and "rational" basis for scientific knowledge since Descartes would appear to be in crisis. Our traditional and essentially modern understanding of knowledge and progress has, after all, been seen as a history of increasing sophistication in knowing and, importantly, seeing how the world "really" works.

If, however, we have several competing accounts of how the world works, as in the case of Banks's misappropriated paradigm approach, we are faced with the puzzle of how to choose among rival representations. As just explained, for the correspondence theory of truth to be maintained, it would appear that we need some further external perspective to provide objective grounds upon which to judge among the now multiple conflicting approaches that offer competing "truths" or "representations" of how the world works.

For Descartes, this further transcendental perspective was God; for contemporary philosophers of science like Thomas Kuhn, this further perspective would need to take the form of a "universal algorithm. Kuhn was to conclude that no such algorithm existed, and he thus famously claimed that major scientific revolutions, such as massive changes in perspective like the Copernican revolution, did not occur in the manner of a revolutionary "discovery. This "paradigm shift," as Kuhn was to label it, had more to do with relatively gradual and unpredictable historical and cultural factors—such as the changing role of the church in the eighteenth century—than with the discovery of any external and objective algorithm.

Thus, Kuhn can be said to undermine our "modern" approach to understanding knowledge. His argument instead supports a more holistic conception of "truth" and scientific inquiry that places scholars' beliefs and representations firmly within the historical and cultural contexts of their scientific communities. This holism can be better conceived of as "a coherence theory of truth and knowledge," as Donald Davidson argued in his essay of the same name. A coherence theory of truth refutes the Cartesian dualism by denying the existence of any external and objective perspective or law, while still maintaining a conception of "truth.

Thus, Davidson claims, it follows that some laws must exist. These laws, however, are what could be called internal laws, rather than external, objective laws, and it is this internalism that characterizes Davidson's "anomalous monism. Like Kuhn, then, Davidson is not suggesting a reductive argument whereby "truth" or "laws" are internal to language; rather, he argues that their acceptance as truth or laws has more to do with historical, societal, and disciplinary factors, and thus with irreducible social conditions, than with any external "objective" criteria as such.

Contemporary pragmatists, such as Richard Rorty, have recently taken up this conception of truth as coherence, in recognition of its relationship to both society and politics, and in so doing have come to consider "truth" as the quest for a community of free inquiry and open encounter. With this quest in mind, Rorty has argued that the existing system of political organization best suited to the desired end is that of liberal democratic political representation.

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Rorty writes,. This is to be open to encounters with other actual and possible cultures and to make this openness central to its self-image. This culture is an ethnos which prides itself on its suspicion of ethnocentrism—on its ability to increase freedom and openness of encounters, rather than on its possession of truth. While Rorty's antifoundationalism may provide us with an ethos or sensibility with which to conduct research, we are still left with the question of how this liberal democratic attitude either progresses or confronts challenges.

The provision of a normative basis, which many in the discipline interpret as the result of the "post-positivist revolution," thus still leaves open the question of how future change might occur or on what basis we might support one political movement over another. In other words, questions concerning both politics and ethics, which by this argument now appear central to the discipline, still remain open. In order to understand the nature of such a self-consciously ethnocentric approach to politics, it is perhaps instructive, therefore, to proceed via consideration of an example of antifoundationalist politics in action.

One example available to us concerns the sociocultural movement of feminism. In addressing this issue, we find revealed certain limits on Rorty's approach to politics, and thus we are able to consider the limits of one antifoundationalist project in order to suggest the possibilities of another. In focusing on the feminist problematique in his Tanner Lecture on Human Values, Richard Rorty clearly identified feminism as the contemporary social issue with the greatest revolutionary potential for resulting in positive moral and ethical change within the existing liberal communities of the North Atlantic democracies today.

In keeping with his pragmatic historicist perspective, however, Rorty did not approach feminism in the manner of a free-floating sociopolitical project. On the contrary, he firmly located feminism as the latest in a long line of harbingers of intellectual and moral progress. Thus, Rorty came to situate feminism within the broader historical parameters of a much larger, and continually evolving, political and ethical project, one that I have called Rorty's "postmodern liberal humanism.

It accomplishes this because, from within the setting of a postmodern liberal humanism, feminism plays a much more inclusive sociocultural role, one that goes beyond gender distinctions and aims instead at "the production of a better set of social constructs than the ones presently available, and thus at the creation of a new and better sort of human being.

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In regarding feminism in such an evidently progressive light, Rorty indicates that his postmodern liberal humanism bears very little relation to the classical universal liberal construct of the rational male individual, a construct that feminist theory, among others, has done so much to deconstruct. This is because Rorty's humanism is metaphysically hollow; it does not claim to be universal in any useful sense.

Rather, its content derives solely from the cultural and social context within which a human being might attempt to make the nature of her humanity intelligible.

Understanding the Chiapas Rebellion: Modernist Visions and the Invisible Indian

Such a stance, therefore, recalls the unavoidably ethnocentric nature of any human construction of identity, and as a consequence, Rorty's postmodern humanism denies the validity of questions concerning the absolute ontological, or metaphysical, constitution of the human subject. This stance is in keeping with a pragmatic dismissal of other modernist ideologies, including liberal metanarratives that base their political agendas on such metaphysical constructs. For without an intrinsic nature, Rorty argues, the question of human identity becomes a highly contested issue, yet such contestation shares a contingent reliance on the cultural, social, and historical resources within which rival interpretations can only make themselves understood.

Rorty's humanism is thus firmly situated within a pragmatic philosophical tradition that provides no extrasocial or extracultural perspective from which the nature of its humanity could be settled once and for all. It is this very open-ended nature of Rorty's humanism that also informs the character of his liberalism.

In much the same way that his humanism cannot be addressed without recourse to ethnocentrically situated historical and cultural resources, so too does his liberalism come to function as the minimal sociological structure within which such resources might have the political space to coexist and blossom. Rorty's liberalism thus stands as a loose political framework within which various human natures might have the freedom to pursue their various self-interpretations, untrammeled by the imposition of one version of what humanity can be shown to be.

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Indigenous Peoples In Latin America. How, then, was one to approach the Indian in world politics? Imperial Subjects. Governmentality as a concept that combines the micropolitics of individuals with the macropolitics of states would seem to suggest an alternative means of study that overcomes many of the state-centered and reductionist problems of the realist approach in international relations. Previous Figure Next Figure. We appreciate your feedback. Wearing ski masks and demanding not power but a new understanding of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, Subcomandante Marcos and his followers launched what may be the first "post" or "counter" modern revolution, one that challenges the very concept of the modern nation-state and its vision of a fully assimilated citizenry.

Unlike the liberals of the Enlightenment, Rorty does not seek justification for democracy by an appeal to any transcultural criteria of rationality. Rather, in the spirit of liberal philosophers such as John Stuart Mill, John Dewey, and Thomas Jefferson, Rorty gives priority to the pragmatic and procedural nature of democracy over and above any philosophical claims.

However, unlike the cold utilitarian rationale of Benthamite liberal democracy, Rorty's democratic impulse recalls the romantic and aesthetic aspect of Mill's more sensitive political liberalism. Liberal democracy in this respect functions as a means of limiting the interference of the state in the personal life projects of the individual. This limitation is desirable, the logic runs, because if there is no one correct way of being, then individuals should be free, in a romantic manner, to "create themselves anew.

These limits, for Rorty, are considered both community and individual safeguards, manifesting themselves in the classic liberal construct of an institutional division between the realms of the public and the private. The private domain, in this analysis, provides the cultural space within which philosophers and poets can continue to work freely on the creation of novel self-descriptions of what it means to be a human being.

The public domain, in contrast, demands that the role of creativity adopt a self-consciously pragmatic and communal nature. Public politics thus comes to adopt the reformist and practical character appropriate to a political ethos whose contemplation of social problems does not include the radical restructuring of the central mechanisms of governmental organization. Rorty's liberalism and humanism are thus closely interlinked, making little attempt to describe life within a postmodern North Atlantic democracy beyond endorsing the necessary double bind of the sociological distinction between the public and the private.

This distinction is necessary because, if there is no ahistorical human being whose potential could be fully realized if only we were to apply the correct plans and policies, government and politics must be limited to a self-consciously defined public space. It is a double bind because many of the life projects of individuals are concerned with creating stories about who we are, stories that, because they cannot be considered true or valid in any strong metaphysical sense, must have their cultural impact limited to the private domain of their creators.

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Pragmatic liberals, like Rorty, thus hope to insulate the central political institutions of the state from the adoption of exclusionary political vocabularies that run the risk of subverting a liberal pluralism in the name of some extracultural or ahistorical truth. Nevertheless, while Rorty's postmodern conjuncture of a liberal humanism might provide a convincing antifoundationalist political framework with which support for our existing liberal democracies might continue in lieu of a better alternative, it is still far from clear how this pragmatic perspective can explain the achievement of the moral and social progress implicit in his support for a feminist attempt to create "a new and better sort of human being.

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Although he agrees with Chris Weedon that "one should not view language as a transparent tool for expressing facts but as the material in which particular often conflicting views of facts are constructed," Rorty nevertheless wishes to claim that such conflicts occur in a positive dialectical manner. This is because it has been Rorty's contention that moral and intellectual progress will only be achieved if "the linguistic and other practices of the common culture.

As a consequence, Rorty admits that he cannot provide any analysis of how "the new language spoken by the separatist group may gradually get woven into the language taught in the schools," at least not one that does not start to look increasingly circular. In fact, all he can offer on the back of his antifoundationalist pragmatism is hope. Could it be possible that Rorty has overplayed the extent of cultural agency available within the "fashioning of new names"? For in holding that "all awareness is a linguistic affair," does not Rorty suggest the presence of a cultural and linguistic idealism at work within his analysis, that is, an individualist idealism that exaggerates the moral and social possibilities of freedom within his project of redescription?

Even without adopting her Gramscian analysis of the political, we might have more than a little sympathy with critics such as Nancy Fraser, when she attempts to engage with some of the institutional structures that influence the realm of possible redescriptions for contemporary woman. Might not woman be especially subject to the limitations of identifications determined by, for example, the American welfare state?

And even while refusing to make an invidious distinction between appearance and reality "in favour of a distinction between beliefs which serve some purposes and beliefs which serve other purposes—for example, the purposes of one group and those of another," might we not still wish to contest that the playing field upon which such groups confront each other is not one of equality but one permeated with the differential effects of power?

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After all, are critics like Fraser not correct in thinking that some of our cultural institutions and social practices do have more power in the fashioning of names than others? Although Rorty might provide a convincing explanation of how language comes to shape our thoughts about ourselves—a position, borrowed from Wilfred Sellars, that he calls psychological nominalism—he nonetheless fails to provide any account of how such social practices and personal thoughts have come to interact. Interestingly, it is also Wilfred Sellars who appears to recognize the sociological failings present in Rorty's oscillating philosophical stance, when he writes, "one seems forced to choose between the picture of an elephant which rests on a tortoise what supports the tortoise?

Ian Hacking believes there is. Calling attention to Rorty's own reliance on the historical influence of Descartes for his subsequent explanation of the dominance of a particular style of philosophical reasoning—that is, one preoccupied with the search for foundations—Hacking wonders whether "perhaps Richard Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature , with its central doctrine of 'conversation,' will some day seem as linguistic a philosophy as the analysis emanating from Oxford a generation or two ago.

This persistence is what leads Ian Hacking to assert a "literal belief in the creation of phenomena, [which] shows why the objects of the sciences, although brought into being at moments of time, are not historically constituted. Hacking makes a vital distinction between what he calls "making things up" and "making people up.

While not claiming to reveal any ahistorical truths, Hacking proposes that an inquiry into the history of certain practices, rather than simply into the history of modern philosophy, may just provide novel interpretations of how certain social practices have come to dictate the human and institutional parameters for the possibility of redescription in the present. One of Hacking's examples is the history of statistics. He writes, "the bureaucracy of statistics imposes not just by creating administrative rulings but by determining classifications within which people must think of themselves and of the actions that are open to them.

While it would be difficult to identify limits in the creative and imaginative attempt to redescribe women in the uninhibited realm of language, critics like Nancy Fraser may well have a strong case for arguing that all the self-redescription in the world will not transform the governmentally mediated relationships of power within which many women and men currently find themselves subject. In this particular instance, I suspect that the answer lies in the tension between Rorty's picture of the self as a centerless and contingent web of beliefs and desires, and his separate endorsement of the overriding desire of women to unite such contingencies into a unifying story about oneself.

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In this respect, it seems appropriate to think of the writing of Marie Cardinal, whose international best-seller, The Words to Say It , describes her personal experience of seven years of psychoanalysis. Echoing Rorty, Cardinal writes of the personal freedom that she has come to value through creating a personal vocabulary from within which she has been able to articulate what it means to be a woman. Like Rorty, however, Cardinal then goes on to extend this very personal experience of the liberating effects of language, as discovered through countless hours of therapy, to the more collective enterprise of a feminist politics.

She writes, "speech is an act. Words are objects. Invisible, palpable, revealing. Men hermetically sealed these words, imprisoned women within them. Women must open them if they want to survive. It is an enormous, dangerous and revolutionary task that we undertake. Cardinal's writing thus makes explicit what Rorty assumes.

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For it is clear that Cardinal's very conception of freedom derives directly from the comparatively recent "discoveries" of psychology and psychoanalysis. That Rorty takes for granted the sense of self understood by such "psy sciences," as Nikolas Rose refers to them, says much for the cultural prevalence of the "psy effect" and little for Rorty's narrowly focused philosophical historicism.

In much the same way as Hacking has come to approach the history of statistics and probability, Nikolas Rose has provided a cultural history of the sciences of "psy. In this respect, Rose does not deny the freedom that Cardinal describes and Rorty takes for granted; rather, he hopes to increase the prospects of freedom not by endorsing the practices of psy but by attempting to describe the manner in which such practices have become central to the government of human conduct in advanced liberal democracies.

He suggests that. And if, in our vernacular speech, we think of ourselves in psy terms, we do so only through the relations we have established with this truth regime: for we each play our own part, as parents, teachers, partners, lovers, consumers and sufferers, in these contemporary psychological machinations of the self. From this historicist perspective, we might profitably view both Rorty and Cardinal as principally concerned with the creative freedom and individual agency possible within a psychological and thus self-contained conception of the self, at the expense of the very public languages, practices, and techniques that have come to constitute such a psychological understanding of personal agency in the first place.

Freedom might therefore be redescribed in terms that neither privilege the psychological agency of the modern self nor underestimate the political relationships of power with which such selves are inextricably woven. What is more, we should be sensitive to the employment of contemporary Western techniques of self-understanding and government when we attempt to describe or approach non-Western subjects, such as the Maya of Chiapas. International relations could therefore benefit from a distinction already proposed in sociology—that is, a distinction between "freedom as a formula of resistance and freedom as a formula of power.

These costs might be better approached from an internal and "untimely meditation" upon our contemporary practices of freedom—freedom understood as constituted economically, psychologically, and therefore, inextricably socially. Prescribing such an "untimely meditation" within the practices of liberal democracy thus recalls the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who first suggested that history might fulfill such a "political" task.

For such histories, in their attempt to redescribe our contemporary practices of freedom, hope to create new opportunities for future understandings, understandings that might herald a time when women and men may have greater freedom from the current truths within which they often unhappily find themselves subject. The acknowledged inheritor of this philosophical and political approach to history is, of course, Michel Foucault.

It was Foucault, after all, who not only refused to take for granted the liberal democratic culture from within which he too worked, but also sought to understand the nature of such a Western liberal culture in terms of a history of government, control, and freedom. Many of Michel Foucault's books can be read as historical stories about how different types of people were "made up. In his own words, "my objective. By focusing on the criminal, the sick, and the mentally ill, Foucault sought to reveal societies' implicit understandings of the legal, the healthy, and the sane.

In this way, Foucault approached knowledge in a highly historicized and contextualized manner, and in particular, he attempted to underline the complicated relationship between knowledge and power.