Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Master-Slave Paradox

...or Hegel's Secret Syllogism
First premise: an individual's "right of distress" to violate the law when his or her life is in danger or his or her survival is not possible.

Second premise: there is, in a modern society, a whole class of people, systematically created by the existing social order, whose normal survival is not possible.

Conclusion: so that class, even more so than an individual, should possess the :right of distress" and rebel against the existing legal order.
In short, what we get with such a reading of Hegel is nothing less than a Maoist Hegel, a Hegel who tells us what Mao told the young at the outset of the Cultural Revolution: "It is a right to rebel!" Therein lies the lesson of the true Master: a true Master is not an agent of discipline and prohibition, his message is not "You cannot!", and not "You have to...!", but a releasing "You can!" - what? Do the impossible, namely what appears impossible within the coordinates of the existing constellation - and today, this means something very precise: you can think beyond capitalism and liberal democracy as the ultimate framework of our lives. A Master is a vanishing mediator who gives you back to yourself, who delivers you to the abyss of your freedom: when we listen to a true leader, we discover what we want (or rather, what we always already wanted without knowing it). A Master is needed because we cannot accede to our freedom directly - to gain this access we have to be pushed from the outside, since our "natural state" is one of inert hedonism, of what Badiou calls the "human animal". The underlying paradox here is that the more we live as "free individuals with no Master," the more we are effectively non-free, caught within the existing frame of possibilities - we have to be impelled or disturbed into freedom by a Master.


In Udi Alone's documentary "Art/Violence", a tribute to Juliano MerKhamis, the founder of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, a young Palestinian actress describes what Juliano meant to her and her colleagues: he gave them their freedom, he made them aware of what they could do, he opened up a new possibility for them, homeless kids from a refugee camp. This is the role of an authentic Master: when we are afraid of something (and fear of death is the ultimate fear that makes us slaves), a true friend will say something like: "Don't be afraid, look, I'll do it for free - not because I have to, but out of my love for you; I'm not afraid!" In doing so he sets us free, demonstrating in actu that it can be done, and that we can do it too, that we aren't slaves. Let us recall, from Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead", the description of the impact Howard Roark makes on the audience in the courtroom where he stands on trial:
Roark stood before them as each man stands in the innocence of his own mind. But Roark stood like that before a hostile crowd - and they knew suddenly that no hatred was possible for him. For the flash of an instant, they grasped the manner of his consciousness. Each asked himself: do I need anyone's approval? - does it matter? - am I tied? - And for that instant, each man was free - free enough to feel benevolence for every other man in the room. It was only a moment; the moment of silence when Roark was about to speak.
This is the way Christ brings freedom: confronting Him, we become aware of our own freedom. Such a Master is not a subject supposed to know, but also not simply a subject supposed to be free - in short, he is not a subject of transference, which is why it is also wrong to see his position as equivalent to that of an analyst in the analytical social link. The obvious question to be raised here is: why does a subject need a Master to assume his or her freedom? Does not such an assumption amount to a kind of pragmatic paradox wherein the very form (a Master gives me freedom) undermines the content (my freedom)? Should we not follow the well-known motto of all emancipatory movements: freedom cannot be handed down to us by a benevolent master but has to be won through hard struggle?
- Slavoj Zizek, "Absolute Recoil"

8 comments:

beamish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FreeThinke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beamish said...

Do you see what I see?
Truth is an offense
You silence for your confidence
Do you hear what I hear?
Doors are slamming shut
Limit your imagination, keep you where they must
Do you feel what I feel?
Bittering distress
Who decides what you express
Do you take what I take?
Endurance is the word
Moving back instead of forward seems to me absurd

Doesn't matter what you see?
Or intuit what you read
You can do it your own way
If it's done just how I say

Independence limited
Freedom of choice
Choice is mad for you my friend
Freedom of speech
Speech is words that they will bend
Freedom with their exception

Do you fear what I fear?
Living properly
Truths to you are lies to me
Do you choose what I choose?
More alternatives
Energy derives from both the plus and negative
Do you need what I need?
Boundaries overthrown
Look inside to each his own
Do you trust what I trust?
Me, myself and I
Penetrate the smoke screen I see through the selfish lie

Doesn't matter what you see
Or intuit what you read
You can do it your own way
If it's done just how I say

Independence limited
Freedom of choice
Choice is mad for you my friend
Freedom of speech
Speech is words that they will bend
Freedom with their exception

Do you know what I know?
Your money end your wealth
Your silence just to hear your self
Do you want what I want?
Desire not a thing
I hunger after independence lengthen freedom's ring

Doesn't matter what you see
Or intuit what you read
You can do it your own way
If it's done just how I say

Independence limited
Freedom of choice
Choice is mad for you my friend
Freedom of speech
Speech is words that they will bend
Freedom no longer frees you

Doesn't matter what you see
Or intuit what you read
You can do it your own way
If it's done just how I say


- Metallica, "Eye of the Beholder"

Titan Uranus 2 said...

"The Master's Discourse... from the Hysteric's perspective," stated the Analyst. ;)

beamish said...

yum ma nuh

Stanley Kowalski said...

Let me run that through Google translate a few more times... ;)

beamish said...

LOL

At least they will still be able to fall back on being a late night cover band...

WomanHonorThyself said...

sad day in the USA my friend..be well and keep thinkin FJ!!! xoxoxox