Logic and Politics #4: Thoroughly Modern Celly (clean text)

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Jeff Rubard

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Oct 5, 2003, 10:45:46 PM10/5/03
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"Necrotizing fasciitis" -- it's not just for breakfast anymore!

Logic and Politics #4
Thoroughly Modern Celly: Or, The Persistence of Corporatism


"The modern prince, the myth-prince, cannot be a real person, a real
individual. It can only be an organism, a complex element of society in which
a collective will, which has already been recognized and has to some extent
asserted itself in action, begins to take concrete form. History has already
provided this organism, and it is the political party -- the first cell in which
there come together germs of a collective will tending to become
universal and total."

Gramsci, Prison Notebooks

Who Says?: De Re Attitudes And Social Choice

Knowledge of Facts, Knowledge of Things, And Now For Something Completely
Different

The distinction in analytic philosophy between de dicto and de re
attitudes is well-established (originating with Quine); the difficulty
of substantive formulations concerning the latter class - "wringing
water from a stone" -- is also well-established (since Burge's "Belief
De Re.")

What the second opinion is not is well-founded, and in this
essay we will begin with the de dicto/de re distinction and end up
considering its excluded third, the problem of Nichtwissen or
"non-knowledge", in connection with political theory. This takes
some doing: contemporary liberal political theory is unconcerned
with "social problems" qua spur to theoretical development -- we
might say almost by design. But luckily for us, some people
unconcerned with liberal political theory have left us the intellectual
tools necessary to pose its problems with the level of precision they
deserve; and in this essay I develop such formulations as a
provisional attempt to pose the problem of contemporary politics in its
true light, a much harsher one than is commonly supposed.

The distinction between belief de dicto ("of sentences", beliefs whose
content involves solely linguistic entities) and belief de re ("of things",
beliefs whose content intrinsically involves some non-linguistic object)
is easily posed, for example in the same terms as Quine originally introduced
it. If I say "I want a sloop", this permits of two different readings. I may want
a sloop, and be thinking of no particular one, or I may have a particular one in
the marina at San Mateo in mind. In the first case, no particular
non-linguistic object is relevant to the content of the desire: I could
want a sloop in this way even if no sloops existed in the world. In the
second case, my wanting that particular sloop not only presupposes
the existence of the particular sloop, it requires that that sloop and that
sloop alone can be involved in my thought in some more or less
"direct" way; and so de re propositional attitudes are what pose the
problem of "singular reference", about which much noise was made all
through the 20th Century.

What is interesting about singular reference? Well, it is both 1)
ubiquitous in natural language and 2) a bitch to understand.
"Full-blooded" theories of singular reference -- that is, which
purport to explain the character of singular reference exactly as it
is in our cognitive life -- famously fall into two camps, "descriptivist"
and "causal-historical"; and the most celebrated theory of all, Evans'
theory of "singular sense", purports to join the strengths of these
two together without remainder. It does not in fact do so, but that
is a story for another time; a better place to begin is Robert Brandom's
"thin" reconstruction of de re ascription, which makes no pretense of being
adequate in this respect. For Brandom, de re ascription of belief
amounts to the "objective" gloss we would put on another's de dicto
belief; if Janie thinks she is shooting a horse and she is really shooting
a cow, we can say "Janie believes, of the cow that she is shooting, that it
is a horse" -- and this is a mechanism for generating de re beliefs for
others if they need some.

But generally speaking, Brandom's "logic of commitment and entitlement"
is totally inadquate to explain the living reality of thought for proof-theoretical
reasons I explained "The Political Significance of the Sequent Calculus" (the
absence of the fine-grained detail in reasoning provided by the Cut rule).
But such "fine-grained" beliefs, as internal events in another person's cognitive
life, ar not directly accessible to us: and thusly, Brandom's account of de re
ascription is useful as a "kinematics" of doxastic dissemination, such as,
y'know, does occur. To grasp what we do not yet know when we have
grasped that "people will talk" requires taking a step back from
the inferentialist machinery, and returning to the questions which originally
plagued the "sententialist" account of propositional attitudes upon which
it is built: namely, paradoxes associated with economic decision theory and
their consequences for its use as a philosophy of psychology.

The importance of decision theory for Donald Davidson's work has always been
poorly appreciated, such that even though the man himself spent over
thirty years correcting misconceptions of his work as "Tractarian" and thusly
cannot be faulted too much for our contemporary "social practicioners", we might
also not be in too much hot water if we were to carry on in that fashion.
Davidson's earliest work, done with Patrick Suppes and Sidney Siegel,
concerned itself with testing the adequacy of Ramsey's logic of probability (the
first rigorous formulation of Bayesian or "subjective" probability theory) as a
philosophy of psychology. Davidson, Suppes, and Siegel tested a
number of the fundamental theorems of Ramsey about rational probability
calculation (partial belief) as principles of "rational maximization" in choice: if
the subject prefers A to B, and B to C, will they prefer A to C? The results were,
unsurprisingly, mixed: a number of choice patterns which were counter-intuitive
from the standpoint of "transitivity of preference" and other decision-theoretic
fundamentals manifested themselves.

The Stanford psychologist Amos Tversky later spent decades constructing
such empirical disproofs of "rational choice" in microeconomics, but as related
by him in later work Davidson was quits with empirical psychology after his initial
foray; he realized that a theory as basic as decision theory was either just
wrong or fundamentally not amenable to disproof, and he favored the
latter. Davidson's later decision-theoretic formulations, in "Thought and
Talk" and "A Unified Theory Of Thought And Action", incorporate the
requirement that choice-preferences be understood in terms of the semantic
values assigned to their lexical consituents by the agent, rather than "raw
behavior" (a source of very unpleasant words between him and Suppes
in the Oxford collection of essays on Essays on Actions and
Events, published before Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation); and
this is actually the source of Davidson's distinctive constraints on
interpretation, which make his work fundamentally different from much of
the semantics that goes under the name "Davidsonian".

Arrow's Slings: On The Reality Of Social Fractionation

What Davidson's theory of interpretation was not good at was handling de
re attitudes, as evidenced by his later half-hearted engagements with
"externalism" in the style of Putnam or Burge. But this is telling on a
level more interesting than that of the vicissitudes of a particular mind;
on an abstract level de re issues should not arise for the Davidsonian
method, and that they do is what really tells against neo-Kantian
"constitutive principles of reason" as the core of philosophy of
language. In fact, what we might say is that rather than being a unified
class (what Tyler Burge disputes in "Belief De Re"), "de re attitudes"
names a set of "pragmatic" intra-psychic cognitive interdependences
associated with beliefs that cannot be explained in terms of conceptual
coherence; the interesting phenomenon is not that "knowledge of
things depends on knowledge of truths", but we are compelled to suppose
the former occurs at all.

And, for all their virtues, "causal-historical theories of reference" do
not explain de re attitudes as a desideratum in the philosophy of
psychology: if semantics is, as Hilary Putnam remarked, an ordinary
empirical social science there is no room left in the semantics of
direct reference for an "ethnomethodological" perspective
-- accounting for the ways we do in fact reason about de re attitudes,
statements about them being false or misleading in a way improved
understanding of the physical composition of natural kinds would
not improve. What does provide room for such a perspective is a
paradox associated with the theory of social choice, Kenneth Arrow's
"(im)possibility theorem". (The parentheses is included to indicate
that Arrow's theorem goes under two names, and that this is of
some importance for understanding its relevance to the topic at hand).

This essay will not concern itself with technical points in decision
theory, and proofs of Arrow's theorem are widely available, so I will
merely state Arrow's results. Arrow began by considering three
desiderata for a theory of social choice in "free markets" (including
voting in a liberal polity), which I will explicate with an eye towards
the application of Arrow I plan to make here.

1. Independence of irrelevant alternatives (Distinctions with
differences): when an option is added to a list of choices, the
preference rankings in the subset of original choices should not change.

2. Citizen's sovereignty: between any two options A and B, society
prefers one to the other and if all members of a society prefer
A to B then society prefers A to B

3. Non-dictatorship: no one person's preference-functions are
identical to the preference-functions of society as a whole.

Arrow demonstrates that these three intuitively appealing constraints on
a theory of "rational" social choice cannot coexist: if we are to have "meaningful"
choices (desideratum #1), one of two conditions obtains. Either we have
"imposition" (non-sovereignty, where social choice is not a function of individual
choice and the society's preferences a partial rather than total order) or
dictatorship, where one individual's choices are at one with social choice as
a whole. Arrow's theorem is widely regarded as a bummer for enthusiasts
of direct democracy, but this is usually where consideration of its consequences
ends. But if one considers imposition and dictatorship in connection with
the aforementioned doxastic kinematics, Arrow's work actually reveals two
mega-bummers which make the superficial consequences of the theorem
appear tame.

To explain the first, it is not widely noted that Arrow's work is
scalable; a condition of imposition can occur in a social group included
a larger group under the condition of dictatorship, and vice versa. The
result of systematically applying these principles is to view the social
aggregate or "general will", the group of all social groups, as a partially
ordered set, which may or may not contain "chains" (totally ordered
sets) with maximal elements -- that is to say, social groups under the
condition of dictatorship. If it does contain such groups, than it itself
has a maximal element (a "dictator" class) according to Zorn's Lemma,
without however necessarily satisfying Arrow's first condition.

The situation which obtains is that hegemony (group dictatorship) rests
with a group that does not "dictate", but rather rules by traditional
authority; and what is necessary is Kant's enlightenment, "man's freeing
himself from his self-incurred tutelage" - the establishment of reason
which insures that the information which is used to make social
choices are made is evenly distributed. For some reason Kant was less
clear on how this could occur, but it is perfectly clear from a sociological
standpoint that nothing less than a bourgeois revolution is necessary
to guarantee the quality of information provided to the hegemonic
class, such that decisions made by the polity with its "guidance" are
legitimate from the standpoint of the "unforced force of the better reason".

To explain the second, let us discuss the opposite transition, from
dictatorship to imposition. As Arrow shows, dictatorship is compatible
with citizen sovereignty - one person may be completely in line with
the society as a whole, and yet every "citizen" has their full say; and
there is nothing in the theory to require that such dictatorship last for
anything but a vanishingly small moment in time. There are, however,
forces which reinforce such dominance. If an individual achieves
dictator status in a group, they achieve dominance as regards de re
ascriptions, and so such ascriptions from them acquire a heightened
value for other members of the group re: strategic action. But what
happens in such a case is that, as more and more "information" of
strategic value is defined in terms of such beliefs, the warrant for
the field of social choice diminishes: choices are still made as before,
but an "instrumental" level arises to make the official choices less
relevant and there is nothing intrinsic to check it.

In a way, this is exactly the phenomenon noted by Horkheimer and Adorno
as "Dialectic of Enlightenment"; the immense value of quotations
from Chairman Mao in the China of the Cultural Revolution belied the
irrationality of the political system which guaranteed that value, just as
a powerful new tool for killing people raises the question of what is to
be gained by such a thing. And in the case of society at large, a
social formation which formerly held legitimate dictatorship (that is,
dictatorship proven to be compatible with citizen sovereignty) can
"eat" the grounds of this legitimacy by vitiating checks that ensure citizen
sovereignty, establishing itself as a charismatic authority (that is,
ruling by tacit or explicit force; military coups are exemplary of this
phenomenon). We could call this second condition "weakness of
the general will"; and, as the Arrow paradoxes can be recapitulated
on the level of personal choice (which is constituted by dicta acquired by
playing the game of social choice), both of these social problems can
have significant effects on the psychological lives of people involved.

And we could also say that "weakness of the general will" is a natural
consequence of the phenomenon of globalization, forces outside the
traditional polity coming to bear on its decision-making processes.
But talking about this in any detail requires filling in some more gaps,
and any construal of a phenomenon in the spirit of Dialectic of
Enlightenment -- the original "black book" of Communism -- is
guaranteed, by its very tendency of thought, to miss what is of
value in a process such as "social cognition" (by excluding
"dynamics", rather than "kinematics", as a topic of thematic
research: I will discuss such issues in "Can We Talk?")

And Celly Makes Three (Or Four, Or Something): The Automation of Ideology

Anyone who is enthused by the social-engineering possibilities of the
above analysis ought to hold on a little bit, though. What is also not
clear in Arrow's analysis is that such aggregates need not be
composed entirely of human beings; and indeed, I would argue
that the distinguishing characteristic of late capitalism is the
introduction of nonhuman "voters" (that is, limited-liability
corporations), and the subsequent rise of an order where from
the standpoint of the aggregate of every living human being the
social order is imposed.

In "Truth and Rule-Following", John
Haugeland speaks of "semi-automatic chess", a game where some
of the moves are made for us: and I suppose this to be the analogue
of natural language, which is partially fixed as regards grammar and
usage but permits of creativity; but late capitalism is the situation where
"semi-automatic chess" is played with social choice, where an
*unnatural* "language of power" incapable of "reenchantment"
arises. This would seem to be a natural consequence of more
and more information necessary for life being "encapuslated"
within the aforementioned private corporations.

It would be impossible for a hobbyist with a wrench kit to repair a
contemporary automobile, in the way that a car made thirty years
ago could be repaired using publically available tools, for example:
information pertaining to the car's operation has disappeared
behind the "firewall" of the automobile manufacturer. And such
"privatization" of types of information formerly held in common
- the cognitive equivalent of the "Tragedy of the Commons" -
ramifies: as time goes on and corporate combines become
larger, it becomes more difficult for a small businessman to engage
in transactions with any of them; and consequently, a great deal of
individual power is undone in favor of "corporate" mentalities that
might as well be called corporatist (one thinks of the zaibatsu morning
calisthenics in Japan conducted in time to the company theme song, for
example). What could undo such a situation? Well, I believe we
would be talking here about the item traditionally known as the
"proletarian revolution", although this phrase is as misleading as
"dictatorship of the proletariat" (the demand that the working-class
play the "hegemonic" role in social choice, not that one of them
rule over every other element of society with an iron fist).

The proletarian revolution (and Bolshevik rhetoric is not as misleading
concerning this as the reality of Soviet Russia might lead one to
suspect) aims not at replacing an operating liberal democracy, but
at displacing it through the creation of voluntary associations
(soviets or councils) not susceptible to the incursion of "automated
reasoning" in the way parliamentary democracy is susceptible to the
incursion of corporate imperatives (an economy of scale, the scale
being small and the economy being beauty).

Almost all are agreed the stated goal of the proletarian revolution,
achieving the ideals of liberal democracy, is a nice idea (it is what
left-wing communists and anarchists have in common, for example)
but nobody has ever really had much of an idea about how to make
it happen, and the Bolshevik idea (topple the parliamentary government
and replace it with a soviet-friendly one) had the opposite effect of its
intended one. But in another essay, "Introducing Computational
Marxism", I will suggest that intellectual history does offer us some
practical suggestions for creating such institutions (or rehabilitating
existing ones to serve such a function), and that such "remediation",
rather than hand-wringing or terrorism, is a live option when
confronted with an unsatisfactory social order.

Appendix 1:
The Agfers of Kodack: Bergson, Hegel, Marx, Spinoza as the Liberal Sequence

In the last section, I mentioned that the problems posed by late
capitalism permit of other solutions than new institutions: whereas
"lefts" within the Communist movement, as well as the Communist
movement within socialism as a whole, were always quick to proclaim
"sovietization" as the only true answer (and one far more imminent than
the practices of the latter suggested). But I do insist on this much:
that the problems posed for the science of politics by the failure
of the Bolshevik revolution are inescapable -- it is simply not
enough to suggest that history should have stopped in March
of 1917, and muse "Whither Illusion?" Thusly, a defense of
existing institutions in a liberal spirit carries a more substantial
intellectual burden than is commonly acknowledged, and even
some arguments one would expect to be guaranteed "libertarian"
have surprising affinities. In this section, I will suggest a direction
of thought regarding the role of an institution governmental
or nongovernmental which deserves to be called "liberal".

Contemporary analytic philosophy is very down on "givenness", the idea
of immediate knowledge granted by the senses; and there are some
very good reasons for this (the immateriality of those same reasons).
But inference is not enough, and the obverse of such arguments'
respectability is the limited compass of the intellectual world from
whence they come -- "even Hegel, that great foe of immediacy" requires a
substantial treatment of immediacy in order to be properly
understood, which fact is appreciated by almost nobody at the
present moment. The standard-bearer for the topic of immediacy in
20th-century philosophy was Henri Bergson, a figure nobody
could stand to think about after World War II save Gilles Deleuze;
but without delving too deeply into Bergson's writings, which are
to us more culturally and intellectually distant than Parson Malthus,
let me just say that the idea of *donnes immediates de la conscience* is
the intellectual constraint on the "micro-macro link" between social
choice and rational choice presented above. If conscious experience
makes a substantial contribution to thought, which contribution
cannot be understood in terms of a "game of giving and asking for
reasons", there is indeed something outside the space of reasons
which constrains it, an ineffable along the lines of Lacan's Real.

But this is by no means a vile thought from the standpoint of a
full-blooded Hegelianism, since reason is for the Hegel of the
*Phenomenology* the working-up of such ineffable elements
of collective practice and experience, *Sittlichkeit*, through
discursive rationality. But such practices of "explicitation", to use
the Brandomian phrase, have material constraints of which
*Privatdozent* Hegel was acutely aware; and so we might say
that the lesson of Hegel, mapped onto the intellectual life of the
present day, is that "dialectical materialism" was all Hegelianism ever
amounted to.

Construals of Hegelian tropes like "absolute knowledge" which make them
out to be incompatible with naturalistic understanding of the physical
world on Hegel's understanding are more dubiously cognizant of the
lessons of Gadamer than may be suggested. So we naturally arrive at
Marx, although for once we will not be tarrying here too long, since
what Marx is not is a liberal political theorist; Marx's "economism"
about law falsifies the social and cultural facts, if not frequent material
realities, concerning the institution of the law in Western civilization,
and is from this standpoint barren. The person who is rather a great
deal better in this respect is Spinoza, whose works Tractatus
Theologicus-Politicus and Political Treatise deserve to be called the
definitive expositions, not of "proletarian" political thought,
but of pure liberal democracy de-linked from existing institutions
(including the political parties fetishized above, but not without some
pathos, by Gramsci). And if one were to begin in a mystique with Bergson
and end up in a politique with Spinoza by way of Hegel and Marx, I think
such a period of time would deserve to be called "the liberal hour" (if not
a minor miracle).

Appendix 2: Stars and Stripes Forever, Or, Josef Stalin at Arlington
National Cemetery

"Did your father love Stalin?"
"No, he had normal sexual orientation."
-- Interview with Nikita Khrushchev's son on National Public Radio

Ispoke of an anti-liberal defense of existing institutions, and it is
time to get clear about what this entails. Within communism, this
is the question posed by the practice of Stalinism; not only its
claims of "socialism in one country", but also the Soviet Union's
unbelievable tenacity in the face of the Nazi onslaught during
World War II. In the minds of serious military historians Stalin was
unquestionably a more important figure in the Allied victory
than the much-lauded Churchill, secretly minding his imperial
possessions; and it has been suggested by some that the Soviet
Union could have won World War II in the European theater all
by itself, such was the dedication of that country to the "Great
Patriotic War". Certainly they paid the largest price: almost as many
Soviets died during World War II as died in all other belligerent
nations on both sides combined (over fifty times as many
Soviets as Americans died, for example).

What is to account for this, which against any backdrop other than the
steady drumbeat of anti-Communism in the US during the 20th
century would count as an almost impossible dedication on the
part of Soviets to their country and the cause of humanity
in general? Well, Stalin's autocratic rule (responsible for the
peacetime deaths of many millions more) had something to do
with the "scorched-people" policies of the Soviets;
there could not be another Brest-Litovsk, on account of the "democratic"
nature of the Soviet government and the nonexistence of
effective resistance. But recently some historians have started
to look at "ordinary Stalinism", the adaptation of Soviet citizens
to life under Stalin; and the views of such people have many points of
connection with those of "involuntary martyrs" across
national and temporal divides, people whose life situation pushed
them into a position where "the highest sacrifice" became a rational
choice, on account of the worthlessness of their personal lives but also
their genuine faith in an ideology (which has not gone away on
Daniel Bell's say-so).

The American scene of such veneration is Arlington National Cemetery,
where military heroes (including JFK, who is buried there on account
of his Navy years) killed in government service are laid to rest.
Khrushchev was the first acting Soviet leader to visit America
(Trotsky having lived in New York during the period immediately
preceding the February Revolution), but when he was allowed to visit the
focus of the "sightseeing" tour he was taken on was strictly
economic; the point being that if the Soviets were to bury the
United States there was a wealth of material goods which would
be landfill candidates, but the elided point being that the Soviet Union
had not benefitted from their World War II efforts in anything like the
manner suggested by "Iron Curtain" rhetoric (which was at any
rate rather disingenuous given the non-stop subversion of independent
left-wing governments by US operatives during this period).

We might well consider that the reception of "actually-existing
socialism" has been something like Amadeo Bordiga's "murder of the
dead", the political realities of "withered states" being distorted in
order to conceal crimes committed by the other side, and that
Foucault's cry "Society must be defended" has more to do with
the member of the PCF who cried when Stalin died than the Foucault
of San Francisco's microbiotic "heterotopias", as do similar
"communitarian" impulses not clearly marked as socialist in orientation.

Those old Bolsheviks would expect no less, of course, and so perhaps the
focus of attention regarding the atrocities of Communism should shift from
"The Evil Empire" to an understanding of the Stalinist as Jasager, to use
Brecht's "didactic" play for Stalinist audiences as an example -- the
"one who says yes" not only to freedom and a new world, but to taking
responsibility for the evil men (and simple necessity) do in this world
(such as the United States government has never been particularly eager
to do on the international scene, for example with respect to their attacks
on a former ally who had not aggressed against them during
the Russian Civil War); and that in fact "the passing of an illusion" may
have unleashed something rather unpalatable upon the world.

But if we are to seriously assess the historical legacy of the Soviet Union
(and Soviet Communism is a "dead tradition" in the sense bemoaned by Marx)
ten years on, we must also realize what Brecht thought to obscure from
his comfortable position within the Stalinist hierarchy, that there is never
anything like an "authentic" personal reckoning with the forces of
"political romanticism" (in my opinion, this the true source of the liberal
impulse). Or, in other words: life is complicated, and killing
"bad people" doesn't make it simple.

John

unread,
Oct 10, 2003, 11:59:43 PM10/10/03
to
jru...@opensentence.org (Jeff Rubard) wrote in message news:<740acfc5.03100...@posting.google.com>...

Is "Jeff Rubard" perchance a permutation of Jeff Odd Rube?

> The importance of decision theory for Donald Davidson's work has always been
> poorly appreciated, such that even though the man himself spent over
> thirty years correcting misconceptions of his work as "Tractarian"
and thusly
> cannot be faulted too much for our contemporary "social practicioners", we might
> also not be in too much hot water if we were to carry on in that fashion.
> Davidson's earliest work, done with Patrick Suppes and Sidney Siegel,
> concerned itself with testing the adequacy of Ramsey's logic of probability (the
> first rigorous formulation of Bayesian or "subjective" probability theory) as a
> philosophy of psychology. Davidson, Suppes, and Siegel tested a
> number of the fundamental theorems of Ramsey about rational probability
> calculation (partial belief) as principles of "rational maximization" in choice: if
> the subject prefers A to B, and B to C, will they prefer A to C? The results were,
> unsurprisingly, mixed: a number of choice patterns which were counter-intuitive
> from the standpoint of "transitivity of preference" and other decision-theoretic
> fundamentals manifested themselves.
>

When you're in front of the mirror, does the blamed thing fog up?
(It doesn't for Post-Modern Generators.)

After you've visited this site, please sign Uncle Al's guest book:

http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/sunshine.jpg


>
> This essay will not concern itself with technical points in decision
> theory, and proofs of Arrow's theorem are widely available, so I will
> merely state Arrow's results. Arrow began by considering three
> desiderata for a theory of social choice in "free markets" (including
> voting in a liberal polity), which I will explicate with an eye towards
> the application of Arrow I plan to make here.
>
> 1. Independence of irrelevant alternatives (Distinctions with
> differences): when an option is added to a list of choices, the
> preference rankings in the subset of original choices should not change.
>
> 2. Citizen's sovereignty: between any two options A and B, society
> prefers one to the other and if all members of a society prefer
> A to B then society prefers A to B
>
> 3. Non-dictatorship: no one person's preference-functions are
> identical to the preference-functions of society as a whole.

See above

>
> Arrow demonstrates that these three intuitively appealing constraints on
> a theory of "rational" social choice cannot coexist: if we are to have "meaningful"
> choices (desideratum #1), one of two conditions obtains. Either we have
> "imposition" (non-sovereignty, where social choice is not a function of individual
> choice and the society's preferences a partial rather than total order) or
> dictatorship, where one individual's choices are at one with social choice as
> a whole. Arrow's theorem is widely regarded as a bummer for enthusiasts
> of direct democracy, but this is usually where consideration of its consequences
> ends. But if one considers imposition and dictatorship in connection with
> the aforementioned doxastic kinematics, Arrow's work actually reveals two
> mega-bummers which make the superficial consequences of the theorem
> appear tame.

See above

>
> To explain the first, it is not widely noted that Arrow's work is
> scalable; a condition of imposition can occur in a social group included
> a larger group under the condition of dictatorship, and vice versa. The
> result of systematically applying these principles is to view the social
> aggregate or "general will", the group of all social groups, as a partially
> ordered set, which may or may not contain "chains" (totally ordered
> sets) with maximal elements -- that is to say, social groups under the
> condition of dictatorship. If it does contain such groups, than it itself
> has a maximal element (a "dictator" class) according to Zorn's Lemma,
> without however necessarily satisfying Arrow's first condition.

See above

>
> The situation which obtains is that hegemony (group dictatorship) rests
> with a group that does not "dictate", but rather rules by traditional
> authority; and what is necessary is Kant's enlightenment, "man's freeing
> himself from his self-incurred tutelage" - the establishment of reason
> which insures that the information which is used to make social
> choices are made is evenly distributed. For some reason Kant was less
> clear on how this could occur, but it is perfectly clear from a sociological
> standpoint that nothing less than a bourgeois revolution is necessary
> to guarantee the quality of information provided to the hegemonic
> class, such that decisions made by the polity with its "guidance" are
> legitimate from the standpoint of the "unforced force of the better reason".

See above

>
> To explain the second, let us discuss the opposite transition, from
> dictatorship to imposition. As Arrow shows, dictatorship is compatible
> with citizen sovereignty - one person may be completely in line with
> the society as a whole, and yet every "citizen" has their full say; and
> there is nothing in the theory to require that such dictatorship last for
> anything but a vanishingly small moment in time. There are, however,
> forces which reinforce such dominance. If an individual achieves
> dictator status in a group, they achieve dominance as regards de re
> ascriptions, and so such ascriptions from them acquire a heightened
> value for other members of the group re: strategic action. But what
> happens in such a case is that, as more and more "information" of
> strategic value is defined in terms of such beliefs, the warrant for
> the field of social choice diminishes: choices are still made as before,
> but an "instrumental" level arises to make the official choices less
> relevant and there is nothing intrinsic to check it.

See above

>
> In a way, this is exactly the phenomenon noted by Horkheimer and Adorno
> as "Dialectic of Enlightenment"; the immense value of quotations
> from Chairman Mao in the China of the Cultural Revolution belied the
> irrationality of the political system which guaranteed that value, just as
> a powerful new tool for killing people raises the question of what is to
> be gained by such a thing. And in the case of society at large, a
> social formation which formerly held legitimate dictatorship (that is,
> dictatorship proven to be compatible with citizen sovereignty) can
> "eat" the grounds of this legitimacy by vitiating checks that ensure citizen
> sovereignty, establishing itself as a charismatic authority (that is,
> ruling by tacit or explicit force; military coups are exemplary of this
> phenomenon). We could call this second condition "weakness of
> the general will"; and, as the Arrow paradoxes can be recapitulated
> on the level of personal choice (which is constituted by dicta acquired by
> playing the game of social choice), both of these social problems can
> have significant effects on the psychological lives of people involved.

See above

>
> And we could also say that "weakness of the general will" is a natural
> consequence of the phenomenon of globalization, forces outside the
> traditional polity coming to bear on its decision-making processes.
> But talking about this in any detail requires filling in some more gaps,
> and any construal of a phenomenon in the spirit of Dialectic of
> Enlightenment -- the original "black book" of Communism -- is
> guaranteed, by its very tendency of thought, to miss what is of
> value in a process such as "social cognition" (by excluding
> "dynamics", rather than "kinematics", as a topic of thematic
> research: I will discuss such issues in "Can We Talk?")
>
> And Celly Makes Three (Or Four, Or Something): The Automation of Ideology

See above

>
> Anyone who is enthused by the social-engineering possibilities of the
> above analysis ought to hold on a little bit, though. What is also not
> clear in Arrow's analysis is that such aggregates need not be
> composed entirely of human beings; and indeed, I would argue
> that the distinguishing characteristic of late capitalism is the
> introduction of nonhuman "voters" (that is, limited-liability
> corporations), and the subsequent rise of an order where from
> the standpoint of the aggregate of every living human being the
> social order is imposed.
>
> In "Truth and Rule-Following", John
> Haugeland speaks of "semi-automatic chess", a game where some
> of the moves are made for us: and I suppose this to be the analogue
> of natural language, which is partially fixed as regards grammar and
> usage but permits of creativity; but late capitalism is the situation where
> "semi-automatic chess" is played with social choice, where an
> *unnatural* "language of power" incapable of "reenchantment"
> arises. This would seem to be a natural consequence of more
> and more information necessary for life being "encapuslated"
> within the aforementioned private corporations.

See above

>
> It would be impossible for a hobbyist with a wrench kit to repair a
> contemporary automobile, in the way that a car made thirty years
> ago could be repaired using publically available tools, for example:
> information pertaining to the car's operation has disappeared
> behind the "firewall" of the automobile manufacturer. And such
> "privatization" of types of information formerly held in common
> - the cognitive equivalent of the "Tragedy of the Commons" -
> ramifies: as time goes on and corporate combines become
> larger, it becomes more difficult for a small businessman to engage
> in transactions with any of them; and consequently, a great deal of
> individual power is undone in favor of "corporate" mentalities that
> might as well be called corporatist (one thinks of the zaibatsu morning
> calisthenics in Japan conducted in time to the company theme song, for
> example). What could undo such a situation? Well, I believe we
> would be talking here about the item traditionally known as the
> "proletarian revolution", although this phrase is as misleading as
> "dictatorship of the proletariat" (the demand that the working-class
> play the "hegemonic" role in social choice, not that one of them
> rule over every other element of society with an iron fist).

See above

>
> The proletarian revolution (and Bolshevik rhetoric is not as misleading
> concerning this as the reality of Soviet Russia might lead one to
> suspect) aims not at replacing an operating liberal democracy, but
> at displacing it through the creation of voluntary associations
> (soviets or councils) not susceptible to the incursion of "automated
> reasoning" in the way parliamentary democracy is susceptible to the
> incursion of corporate imperatives (an economy of scale, the scale

> being small and the economy being beauty).'

See above

>
> Almost all are agreed the stated goal of the proletarian revolution,
> achieving the ideals of liberal democracy, is a nice idea (it is what
> left-wing communists and anarchists have in common, for example)
> but nobody has ever really had much of an idea about how to make
> it happen, and the Bolshevik idea (topple the parliamentary government
> and replace it with a soviet-friendly one) had the opposite effect of its
> intended one. But in another essay, "Introducing Computational
> Marxism", I will suggest that intellectual history does offer us some
> practical suggestions for creating such institutions (or rehabilitating
> existing ones to serve such a function), and that such "remediation",
> rather than hand-wringing or terrorism, is a live option when
> confronted with an unsatisfactory social order.

See above

>
> Appendix 1:
> The Agfers of Kodack: Bergson, Hegel, Marx, Spinoza as the Liberal Sequence
>
> In the last section, I mentioned that the problems posed by late
> capitalism permit of other solutions than new institutions: whereas
> "lefts" within the Communist movement, as well as the Communist
> movement within socialism as a whole, were always quick to proclaim
> "sovietization" as the only true answer (and one far more imminent than
> the practices of the latter suggested). But I do insist on this much:
> that the problems posed for the science of politics by the failure
> of the Bolshevik revolution are inescapable -- it is simply not
> enough to suggest that history should have stopped in March
> of 1917, and muse "Whither Illusion?" Thusly, a defense of
> existing institutions in a liberal spirit carries a more substantial
> intellectual burden than is commonly acknowledged, and even
> some arguments one would expect to be guaranteed "libertarian"
> have surprising affinities. In this section, I will suggest a direction
> of thought regarding the role of an institution governmental
> or nongovernmental which deserves to be called "liberal".

See above

>
> Contemporary analytic philosophy is very down on "givenness", the idea
> of immediate knowledge granted by the senses; and there are some
> very good reasons for this (the immateriality of those same reasons).
> But inference is not enough, and the obverse of such arguments'
> respectability is the limited compass of the intellectual world from
> whence they come -- "even Hegel, that great foe of immediacy" requires a
> substantial treatment of immediacy in order to be properly
> understood, which fact is appreciated by almost nobody at the
> present moment. The standard-bearer for the topic of immediacy in
> 20th-century philosophy was Henri Bergson, a figure nobody
> could stand to think about after World War II save Gilles Deleuze;
> but without delving too deeply into Bergson's writings, which are
> to us more culturally and intellectually distant than Parson Malthus,
> let me just say that the idea of *donnes immediates de la conscience* is
> the intellectual constraint on the "micro-macro link" between social
> choice and rational choice presented above. If conscious experience
> makes a substantial contribution to thought, which contribution
> cannot be understood in terms of a "game of giving and asking for
> reasons", there is indeed something outside the space of reasons

> which constrains it, an ineffable along the lines of Lacan's Real..

See above

>
> But this is by no means a vile thought from the standpoint of a
> full-blooded Hegelianism, since reason is for the Hegel of the
> *Phenomenology* the working-up of such ineffable elements
> of collective practice and experience, *Sittlichkeit*, through
> discursive rationality. But such practices of "explicitation", to use
> the Brandomian phrase, have material constraints of which
> *Privatdozent* Hegel was acutely aware; and so we might say
> that the lesson of Hegel, mapped onto the intellectual life of the
> present day, is that "dialectical materialism" was all Hegelianism ever
> amounted to.

See above

> Construals of Hegelian tropes like "absolute knowledge" which make them
> out to be incompatible with naturalistic understanding of the physical
> world on Hegel's understanding are more dubiously cognizant of the
> lessons of Gadamer than may be suggested. So we naturally arrive at
> Marx, although for once we will not be tarrying here too long, since
> what Marx is not is a liberal political theorist; Marx's "economism"
> about law falsifies the social and cultural facts, if not frequent material
> realities, concerning the institution of the law in Western civilization,
> and is from this standpoint barren. The person who is rather a great
> deal better in this respect is Spinoza, whose works Tractatus
> Theologicus-Politicus and Political Treatise deserve to be called the
> definitive expositions, not of "proletarian" political thought,
> but of pure liberal democracy de-linked from existing institutions
> (including the political parties fetishized above, but not without some
> pathos, by Gramsci). And if one were to begin in a mystique with Bergson
> and end up in a politique with Spinoza by way of Hegel and Marx, I think
> such a period of time would deserve to be called "the liberal hour" (if not
> a minor miracle).

See above

>
> Appendix 2: Stars and Stripes Forever, Or, Josef Stalin at Arlington
> National Cemetery
>
> "Did your father love Stalin?"
> "No, he had normal sexual orientation."
> -- Interview with Nikita Khrushchev's son on National Public Radio
>
> Ispoke of an anti-liberal defense of existing institutions, and it is
> time to get clear about what this entails. Within communism, this
> is the question posed by the practice of Stalinism; not only its
> claims of "socialism in one country", but also the Soviet Union's
> unbelievable tenacity in the face of the Nazi onslaught during
> World War II. In the minds of serious military historians Stalin was
> unquestionably a more important figure in the Allied victory
> than the much-lauded Churchill, secretly minding his imperial
> possessions; and it has been suggested by some that the Soviet
> Union could have won World War II in the European theater all
> by itself, such was the dedication of that country to the "Great
> Patriotic War". Certainly they paid the largest price: almost as many
> Soviets died during World War II as died in all other belligerent
> nations on both sides combined (over fifty times as many
> Soviets as Americans died, for example).

See above

>
> What is to account for this, which against any backdrop other than the
> steady drumbeat of anti-Communism in the US during the 20th
> century would count as an almost impossible dedication on the
> part of Soviets to their country and the cause of humanity
> in general? Well, Stalin's autocratic rule (responsible for the
> peacetime deaths of many millions more) had something to do
> with the "scorched-people" policies of the Soviets;
> there could not be another Brest-Litovsk, on account of the "democratic"
> nature of the Soviet government and the nonexistence of
> effective resistance. But recently some historians have started
> to look at "ordinary Stalinism", the adaptation of Soviet citizens
> to life under Stalin; and the views of such people have many points of
> connection with those of "involuntary martyrs" across
> national and temporal divides, people whose life situation pushed
> them into a position where "the highest sacrifice" became a rational
> choice, on account of the worthlessness of their personal lives but also
> their genuine faith in an ideology (which has not gone away on
> Daniel Bell's say-so).

See above

>
> The American scene of such veneration is Arlington National Cemetery,
> where military heroes (including JFK, who is buried there on account
> of his Navy years) killed in government service are laid to rest.
> Khrushchev was the first acting Soviet leader to visit America
> (Trotsky having lived in New York during the period immediately
> preceding the February Revolution), but when he was allowed to visit the
> focus of the "sightseeing" tour he was taken on was strictly
> economic; the point being that if the Soviets were to bury the
> United States there was a wealth of material goods which would
> be landfill candidates, but the elided point being that the Soviet Union
> had not benefitted from their World War II efforts in anything like the
> manner suggested by "Iron Curtain" rhetoric (which was at any
> rate rather disingenuous given the non-stop subversion of independent
> left-wing governments by US operatives during this period).

See above

>
> We might well consider that the reception of "actually-existing
> socialism" has been something like Amadeo Bordiga's "murder of the
> dead", the political realities of "withered states" being distorted in
> order to conceal crimes committed by the other side, and that
> Foucault's cry "Society must be defended" has more to do with
> the member of the PCF who cried when Stalin died than the Foucault
> of San Francisco's microbiotic "heterotopias", as do similar
> "communitarian" impulses not clearly marked as socialist in orientation.
>
> Those old Bolsheviks would expect no less, of course, and so perhaps the
> focus of attention regarding the atrocities of Communism should shift from
> "The Evil Empire" to an understanding of the Stalinist as Jasager, to use
> Brecht's "didactic" play for Stalinist audiences as an example -- the
> "one who says yes" not only to freedom and a new world, but to taking
> responsibility for the evil men (and simple necessity) do in this world
> (such as the United States government has never been particularly eager
> to do on the international scene, for example with respect to their attacks
> on a former ally who had not aggressed against them during
> the Russian Civil War); and that in fact "the passing of an illusion" may
> have unleashed something rather unpalatable upon the world.

See above

>
> But if we are to seriously assess the historical legacy of the Soviet Union
> (and Soviet Communism is a "dead tradition" in the sense bemoaned by Marx)
> ten years on, we must also realize what Brecht thought to obscure from
> his comfortable position within the Stalinist hierarchy, that there is never
> anything like an "authentic" personal reckoning with the forces of
> "political romanticism" (in my opinion, this the true source of the liberal
> impulse). Or, in other words: life is complicated, and killing
> "bad people" doesn't make it simple.

See above

Jeff Rubard

unread,
Oct 11, 2003, 6:00:09 AM10/11/03
to
> Is "Jeff Rubard" perchance a permutation of Jeff Odd Rube?

No, there's no "O". Is that self-effacing enough, or too
self-effacing?



> When you're in front of the mirror, does the blamed thing fog up?
> (It doesn't for Post-Modern Generators.)

Further information on Arrow's Incompleteness Theorem (not typically a
product comments upon which are generated by "postmodern" CS wankery)
is available from a number of sources, as is the essay containing it
in a volume called something or other (Social Choice And Individual
Values)



> After you've visited this site, please sign Uncle Al's guest book:
>
> http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/sunshine.jpg

That's reassuringly corn-pone.

> See above

Done.

> See above

Not too taxing the first time.

> See above

Can I get paid for this?

> See above

I think I've found my calling.

> See above

I mean, it's not challenging -

> See above

Okay, I'm getting bored.

> See above

At least I know a program would have been designed to include more
randomness.

> See above

Now I'm thinking about this one gal I once knew who looked like the
girl in the Noxema commercials on a wee bit of growth hormone.

> See above

You don't have to tell me twice.

> See above

Okay, I didn't know her that well.

> See above

Yeah, I have lots of other options, okay?

> See above

Now I'm getting all apocalyptic.

> See above

Further evidence of the end times.

> See above

Okay, maybe not. Too monotonous.

> See above

Yes, definitely within history.

> See above

In fact, almost ultra-montane in its dedication.

> See above

Okay, it's defenestratin' time.

> See above

There are many exciting alternatives to Windows. Like jimsonweed.

> See above

I've been dazed and confused for so long, that's not true.

> See above

Not if there's no good reason to.

Jeffrey Rubard

unread,
Feb 9, 2022, 5:44:59 AMFeb 9
to
2022: The article was sorta prescient. It was also sorta nuts.

Jeffrey Rubard

unread,
Feb 9, 2022, 6:42:45 PMFeb 9
to
...more one than the other.
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