Privileging concepts like epistemology hides flaws in postmodern approaches to international relations. Their authors prefer dogmatic faith over critical investigation.
(Darryl, Associate Professor & Deputy Director, Centre for Asia and Globalisation. International Relations and the Challenge of Postmodernism: Defending the Discipline. pg. 138)
First, I must acknowledge that any theoretical critique of Ashley’s project, including this one, is destined to failure, at least in its ability to affect the course of debate within postmodernism. This problem is not endemic to the nature of the critique(s), but reflects the fact that postmodern theory is as much driven by ideological commitment as by theoretical innovation. Moreover, within international relations theory the postmodernist perspective exists independently of contending approaches, hermetically isolated if only because of its specialized nomenclature and distinctive ideological hue that encloses participants in a select and self-absorbed theoretical-ideological discourse. Membership to this discourse is exclusive and limited to those who promise to take up the faith and propagate it, not question it critically. Thus, regardless of how erudite critiques migh be, or how serendipitous critical analysis proves, we can scarcely expect Ashley to be convinced by intellectual mustings when they are contrary to his political ambitions. For in Ashley’s writings we are confronted as much by ideological intransigence as we debate over ontological and epistemological issues. The postmodernist/modernist divide is more ideological than theoretical, a battle not between contending ontologies so much as between political loyalties. The façade of ontological and epistemological debate has thus been used deceptively to shield the underlying ideological axis upon which these debates ultimately rest. For this reason, we should not be surprised that postmodernists remain unconvinced by modernist theory, or vice versa, or that each is largely uninterested in the others perspective, theory, or arguments. Those views, theories, or paradigms not in accord with one’s own worldview or basic values are rarely considered, let alone studied. And while Ashley would have us believe that these failings are the exclusive prsever of modernist/positivist theory, postmodernist theory too is just as guilty, having evolved in isolation, cocooned by technical nomenclature, reticent to engage contending perspectives in useful dialogue, and trigger happy in rejecting opposing perspectives without first understanding them.
Reforming the state is a strategic necessity – non-state alternatives will either be crushed by the state or result in less accountable tyrannies
(Noam, Professor of Linguistics at MIT. The Common Good: Noam Chomsky Interviewed by David Barsamian, p. 84-85)
So Argentina is “minimizing the state”—cutting down public expenditures, the way our government is doing, but much more extremely. Of course, when you minimize the state, you maximize something else—and it isn’t popular control. What gets maximized is private power, domestic and foreign. I met with a very lively anarchist movement in Buenos Aires, and with other anarchist groups as far away as northeast Brazil, where nobody even knew they existed. We had a lot of discussions about these matters. They recognize that they have to try to use the state—even though they regard it as totally illegitimate. The reason is perfectly obvious: When you eliminate the one institutional structure in which people can participate to some extent—namely the government—you’re simply handing over power to unaccountable private tyrannies that are much worse. So you have to make use of the state, all the time recognizing that you ultimately want to eliminate it. Some of the rural workers in Brazil have an interesting slogan. They say their immediate task is “expanding the floor of the cage.” They understand that they’re trapped inside a cage, but realize that protecting it when it’s under attack from even worse predators on the outside, and extending the limits of what the cage will allow, are both essential preliminaries to dismantling it. If they attack the cage directly when they’re so vulnerable, they’ll get murdered.That’s something anyone ought to be able to understand who can keep two ideas in their head at once, but some people here in the US tend to be so rigid and doctrinaire that they don’t understand the point. But unless the left here is willing to tolerate that level of complexity, we’re not going to be of any use to people who are suffering and need our help—or, for that matter, to ourselves.
Their kritik of science sweeps the rug out from under anti-colonial movements attempting to use science to counter domination and violence—it ends up validating all non-Western views, including reactionary, nationalist, and oppressive
Nanda, Phil of Science @ Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst, 1997
(Meera, “Against social destruction of science: cautionary tales from the third world”, Monthly Review, March
One of the most remarkable - and the least remarked upon - features of the "radical" movement engaged in deconstructing natural science is how it ends up denying the unity (i.e., universality) of truth, reason, reality, and science precisely in the name of those who need these unities most urgently - the "people resisting despotism and its lies." This includes those of us from non-Western societies fighting against the despotism of some of our own cultural traditions, and the untested and untestable cosmologies that are used to justify these traditions. A loose and varied assortment of theories that bear the label of social constructivism have declared the very content of modern natural science to be justified, in the final instance, by "Western" cultural values and social interests. Once modern science is seen not as a universally valid knowledge about the natural world, but as a particular or "ethno"-construct of Western society, it becomes easy to see science as a part of the imperialistic West's despotism, which the west's "Others" must resist in the name of cultural survival and anti-imperialism. Modern science thus becomes a despotism, an object of resistance rather than an ally of those resisting despotism.My goal in this paper is to cast a critical look at these anti-realist and relativist views of "Western" science, which have gained wide currency in the postmodern academy; and I want to look at them from the perspective of the people's science movements in non-Western countries. These theories - unlike the Marxian idea of social mediation of knowledge with which they are often confused - have eroded the distinction between scientifically justified beliefs and folk beliefs and/or ideology. What has undermined these distinctions is the fundamental thesis of social constructivism which states that all beliefs alike are justified by the community consensus, which is itself based upon social power, rhetoric and custom. There is no objective truth about the real world which scientifically justified knowledge can aim toward, but rather all "truth" about "reality" is literally constructed out of choices between equally justifiable interpretations that a "thought collective" makes. These choices, in turn, are driven by the conscious and unconscious biases and interests of the members of any community of inquirers. Though varied in emphases and details, constructivist theorists agree that there simply is no truth, or even reality, that can transcend the local social context of inquiry. The "unities" of truth and reason that Ian Hacking speaks for (above), are treated in the constructivist discourse as remnants of the imperialistic impulse of the Enlightenment which sought to impose the West's own peculiar stories about truth and reality on the rest of the world. Such a view of knowledge justifies itself in the name of cultural autonomy, tolerance, and respect for non-Western ways of knowing the world and living in it. But I will argue that, in actual practice, such "tolerance" has only ended up providing theoretical grounds for, and a progressive gloss on, the fast growing anti-modernist, nativist and cultural/religious revivalist movements in many parts of what used to be called the Third World. These movements seek to subordinate scientific rationality to local traditions, and thus are incapable of critically interrogating these same traditions, many of which are patently illiberal and oppressive to women and other marginalized groups in non-Western societies. Almost in direct proportion to the rise of nativist anti-modernist social movements, which correspond with ascendance of social constructivist theories in the academy globally, many pans of the Third World have seen a decline and stigmatization of people's science movements. These people's science movements seek to appropriate the contents and methods of modern science in order to bring traditional knowledge under empirical scrutiny and critique. In the part of the Third World that I am most familiar with - my native India - people's science movements have come to be eclipsed by the highly visible and vocal transnational alliance that has emerged around the idea that modern science is Western, and that the non-West needs its non-Western "ethno"-sciences. Affirmed and emboldened by the most avant-garde intellectuals in the West and at home, these nativist movements tend to label any critique of traditional knowledge from the vantage point of modern science as a sign of Western imperialism, or worse, a hangover from the old, "discredited" and "Western" Enlightenment (although, interestingly, they continue to applaud the critique of "Western" science from the perspective of ethnosciences as anti-Eurocentric, and therefore progressive).(1) Indeed, I believe that the recent electoral success of the religious right (the BJP) in India has definitely benefited from the cultural climate in which even the supposedly Left-inclined intellectuals and activists tend to treat all liberal and modern ideas as "Western," inauthentic, and thus inappropriate for India. Thus I will try to show that although the animus against the rationality of modern science is purportedly justified in the name of anti-imperialism and egalitarianism, its real beneficiaries are not the people but the nativists and nationalists of all stripes, religious or "merely" cultural/civilizational.
Aff – Alternative Ignores Politics
The alternative causes abandonment of the public sphere in favor of individualist intellectualizing cedes power to aggressive and reactionary elites that will cause extinction absent political engagement
Carl Boggs (Los Angeles Campus Full Time Faculty Professor) 1997 “The Great Retreat”
The decline of the public sphere in late twentieth-century America poses a series of great dilemmas and challenges. Many ideological currents scrutinized here ^ localism, metaphysics, spontaneism, post- modernism, Deep Ecology ^ intersect with and reinforce each other. While these currents have deep origins in popular movements of the 1960s and 1970s, they remain very much alive in the 1990s. Despite their different outlooks and trajectories, they all share one thing in common: a depoliticized expression of struggles to combat and over- come alienation. The false sense of empowerment that comes with such mesmerizing impulses is accompanied by a loss of public engagement, an erosion of citizenship and a depleted capacity of individuals in large groups to work for social change. As this ideological quagmire worsens, urgent problems that are destroying the fabric of American society will go unsolved ^ perhaps even unrecognized ^ only to fester more ominously into the future. And such problems (ecological crisis, poverty, urban decay, spread of infectious diseases, technological displacement of workers) cannot be understood outside the larger social and global context of internationalized markets, ¢nance, and communications. Paradoxically, the widespread retreat from politics, often inspired by localist sentiment, comes at a time when agendas that ignore or side- step these global realities will, more than ever, be reduced to impo- tence. In his commentary on the state of citizenship today,Wolin refers to the increasing sublimation and dilution of politics, as larger num- bers of people turn away from public concerns toward private ones. By diluting the life of common involvements, we negate the very idea of politics as a source of public ideals and visions.74 In the meantime, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. The unyielding truth is that, even as the ethos of anti-politics becomes more compelling and even fashionable in the United States, it is the vagaries of political power that will continue to decide the fate of human societies. This last point demands further elaboration. The shrinkage of politics hardly means that corporate colonization will be less of a reality, that social hierarchies will somehow disappear, or that gigantic state and military structures will lose their hold over people's lives. Far from it: the space abdicated by a broad citizenry, well-informed and ready to participate at many levels, can in fact be filled by authoritarian and reactionary elites ^ an already familiar dynamic in many lesser- developed countries. The fragmentation and chaos of a Hobbesian world, not very far removed from the rampant individualism, social Darwinism, and civic violence that have been so much a part of the American landscape, could be the prelude to a powerful Leviathan designed to impose order in the face of disunity and atomized retreat. In this way the eclipse of politics might set the stage for a reassertion of politics in more virulent guise ^ or it might help further rationalize the existing power structure. In either case, the state would likely become what Hobbes anticipated: the embodiment of those universal, collec- tive interests that had vanished from civil society.75
Aff – History Bad
The Alternative has it all wrong. By focusing on only the bad parts to western history the alternative prevents politics. The most violent wars happen between western countries, not done in the name of some frontier
Simms 10 ( By BRENDAN SIMMS, APRIL 15, 2010. Mr. Simms, a professor of international relations at Cambridge University, is the author of "Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire." Remorse As a Way of Life Dwelling on the West's past sins is strangely narcissistic—debilitating, too.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 4052702304168004575178791674850652.html, DA” 6/26/11, CP) Over the years, historians and political scientists, studying the ways in which societies organize themselves, have come up with a range of categories to describe the state itself: the "feudal state," for instance, or the "garrison state," or, more recently, the "knowledge state." Properly applied, such labels can be a useful way of understanding the character of a nation or society at a particular historical moment. In "The Tyranny of Guilt," the French novelist and philosopher Pascal Bruckner adds yet another variant: the "penitent state." Its principal characteristic is an eagerness to apologize for the sins of colonialism and genocide and other Western crimes. The penitent state, by definition, is never an innocent victim of terrorist attack but a deserving one: It has, after all, provoked the wrath of the oppressed, either at home or abroad. Mr. Bruckner cites literary figures, journalists and intellectuals throughout the Western world making the case that whatever punishments the West has been made to suffer—e.g., the horrors of 9/11—are merely well deserved. View Full Image .The Tyranny of Guilt By Pascal Bruckner Princeton, 239 pages, $26.95 .The problem with such self-flagellation, Mr. Bruckner notes, is not factual error. On the contrary, the list of Western crimes, from slavery to genocide, is long. The problem is that a culture of remorse makes the justified, and necessary, criticism of non-Western crimes almost impossible. Serial human-rights abusers such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, or Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, are quick to cry hypocrisy, to good effect, when a Western government faults them for their undeniable acts of cruelty. Mr. Bruckner observes that while the crimes with which the West is charged are of a universal character—no society is without sin—the West's record of atoning for them is unique. "There is no doubt," he writes, "that Europe has given birth to monsters, but at the same time it has given birth to theories that make it possible to understand and destroy these monsters." He reminds us that the West's most destructive wars—against Nazism in 20th-century Europe, against slavery in 19th-century America—have been waged against other Westerners, not against hapless Africans or innocent Asians. The West, in Mr. Bruckner's felicitous phrase, is "like a jailer who throws you into prison and slips you the keys to your cell." Though Mr. Bruckner makes frequent references to Nazism and the Holocaust, he has little to say about the politics of remorse in present-day Germany. This is a pity, since the German case is a particularly good example, if not of the penitent state, then of the penitent state of mind. As Bernhard Schlink observes in "Guilt About the Past," Germany first "repressed" the memory of Hitler and then became "fixated" by it. View Full Image .Guilt About the Past By Bernhard Schlink Anansi Press, 143 pages, $15.95 .Mr. Schlink is a German law professor best known for his novel "The Reader" (1995). In its film version, in 2008, Kate Winslet played the role of Hanna, a former concentration-camp guard with whom the teenage hero, Michael, falls in love. Mr. Schlink hardly refers to his novel in "Guilt About the Past," even though "The Reader" has been criticized for giving a human face to a perpetrator of Nazi crimes. In the chapter on literary representations of guilt, Mr. Schlink argues for the primacy of "telling the story" while conceding that "to tell a thrilling story can easily tempt one into tolerating someone else's hurt too easily." He leaves the tension between these positions unresolved, and their implications for his own work unremarked. Most of "Guilt About the Past" is devoted to a scrupulous, if somewhat ponderous, study of the legal and cultural aspects of Germany's guilt after 1945. Mr. Schlink notes that German citizens were considered to be collectively, and continuously, guilty, even though fewer and fewer of them, over the years, were even of adult age at the time of the Nazi genocide against the Jews. Luckily, Mr. Schlink's analysis is peppered with autobiographical vignettes that show how much the Nazi past came to be part of a struggle between the members of the 1968 generation and their parents. Mr. Schlink narrates an incident at Heidelberg University in 1970 when a law professor, himself a conformist during the Nazi period, became involved in a scuffle with students outraged at both his past and the way in which he sought to suppress their protests. Both Mr. Schlink and Mr. Bruckner believe that an obsession with guilt can easily become a disabling form of narcissism. "Fighting and winning yesterday's moral battles with bravery in one's mind," Mr. Schlink writes, "doesn't necessarily prepare one for today's moral conflicts." The patience of the NATO powers wore thin in the early 1990s, for instance, when they were told that their German ally could not participate in the effort to stop Serbian attacks on Bosnian Muslims. When the Berlin government eventually abandoned that position in 1994-95, joining NATO's campaign in Bosnia at last, it couched the decision in terms of the need to prevent "another Auschwitz," as if the Serbian policy of ethnic cleansing was not enough in itself. The French like to say that "Qui s'excuse, s'accuse": He who tries to justify himself incriminates himself. There is much in European history to confirm the adage. Reading Messrs. Bruckner and Schlink, one realizes that the opposite is true as well: "Qui s'accuse, s'excuse." Westerners who fetishize their historical guilt may intend only to own up to past sins, but they often end up conveniently excusing themselves from taking responsibility for the future.