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Betsy Bowman and Bob Stone

Alongside recent world-historical dates such as 11 September 2001, we would place 15 February 2003. On that day, around 10 million people—some estimates are much higher—demonstrated on the streets of the world's cities in opposition to the US war on Iraq, then being merely threatened. Sartre's study of the elements of history in Critique of Dialectical Reason and its unpublished ethical sequel, Morality and History, illuminate, and are illuminated by, the movements that contest today's global system. From the Critique, we'll engage his notions of negative universality as threat of death and the "fusing" of "series" into "groups" as response. From Morality and History, we'll take "integral humanity" as a goal and standard; it seems to us built into the global act of February 15 and into the wider movement of which that day was a moment. After comparing a Sartrean take on February 15 with the famous Habermas-Derrida appeal inspired by that day, we'll close with some reciprocal illuminations between Sartre's theories and Zapatista practice.

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Betsy Bowman and Bob Stone

The question whether, in the interim, the "socialist morality" allows adequate restraint on revolutionary action, cannot fairly be answered in abstraction from history, in this case our epoch. We submit that the group of projects called corporate "globalization" - imposing free trade, privatization, and dominance of transnational corporations - shapes that epoch. These projects are associated with polarization of wealth, deepening poverty, and an alarming new global U.S. military domination. Using 9/11 as pretext for a "war on terror," this domination backs corporate globalization. If Nazi occupation of France and French occupation of Algeria made Sartre and Beauvoir assign moral primacy to overcoming oppressive systems, then U.S. global occupation should occasion rebirth of that commitment. Parallels among the three occupations are striking. France's turning of colonial and metropolitan working classes against each other is echoed by globalization's pitting of (e.g.) Chinese against Mexican workers in a race to lower wages to get investment. Seducing first-world workers with racial superiority and cheap imports from near-slavery producers once again conceals their thralldom to their own bosses. Nazi and French use of overwhelming force and even torture are re-cycled by the U.S. and its agents, again to hide the vulnerability of their small forces amidst their enemies.