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« Amauris Samartino threatens Bolivian journalists | Main | Lidia Limachi in memoriam »

November 05, 2008


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What's the source for this? I can't find one on Google.

Yes, I'm curious, too -- Where was this published, if not online? Great piece.

I do not know where it was published, I received it from a professor at NYU. I've asked for the source and will post it as soon as I know. Sorry I don't have it now.

This is a great essay, but no matter what agenda Obama pursues, there will be some buyer's remorse.

I heard back and this piece was not originally published anywhere, just sent in an email by Butler to some of her contacts, and I received it third or fourth hand.

as far as i can tell the all out break with the left began the day after he won - when he nominated the nafta architect and extreme zionist rahm emanuel. it will only keep going down from here on out. the pressures on him to lean toward moderation are extremely strong and come from all directions. they come from the press (conventional wisdom peddlers), the right (who would prefer him to be as conservative as possible), and regular liberals (who don't want him to make the mistake of the clinton administration - namely to go for bold moves at the outset and fail miserably). now that he's won, it's time for those on the left to place themselvesi n opposition to him and to agitate for progressive and big movements on his part. butler doesn't say anything that leftists don't already know, but it is good to see it written out instead of just sitting in my head making me mildly depressed.

oh, if i could add one thing addition to the problems she discussed with the "transcendence" meme, there is also the problem of complacency regarding racism. it seems like his election has let conservatives say "see there's no race problem in the US" as they have been saying all along. but perhaps this allows all of us to begin having the discussions of structural racism with people who think that racism is only "how i treat people of different races" (if we haven't already been having those discussions :P).

Why does no one ever mention that Obama supports the Death Penalty? The most fundamental of all human rights is the right to life. If he can not make it past there, how can we expect to make it to illegal war, to illegal detention, to social justice?

So wait, she's telling people who lived through W., Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan that we need to remember to be cynical about politicians? Gee, thanks, and sorry for getting excited that things might be just a little bit better under an Obama administration. We must be succumbing to fascism! Groan.

Dont tell me not to live,
Just sit and putter,
Lifes candy and the suns
A ball of butter.
Dont bring around a cloud
To rain on my parade.

I think we have to take into account the fact that Butler is a critical theorist and she is using that stance with which to unpack her ideas on Obama. If you read Butlers essay 'What is Critique' she dynamically ascertains that the idea of critique is a motion with which to 'suspend judgment,' can we not then say that Butler in her own words is 'suspending judgment' of Obama until he begins his narrative with politics? She proposes a lot of really insightful comments and understandings, which I think are very pertinent, relating to the climate of politicians and how a country is ruled. More and more so there seems to be a shift within a contemporary political criticism which starts to wonder, are politicians the best people or the only people capable to run a country, and maybe through this we could afford to find a new way to confront the idea of democracy and go as far as to even demolish it and start again.

Rahm Emanueal is an "extreme zionist" which signifies the downturn of Obama's administration?!

This is the man who had a hand in organizing the Oslo Accords and the meeting between Rabin and Arafat.

I think Professor Bulter is struggling between seeing her role as a leftist intellectual (thus a certain supposedly 'reasonable' affinity with Obama) and seeing her difference than someone both near (from the intellectual background) and far. As her reader, I could just mis-interpret her writing to be an American's a bit of grudge to see the land of democracy (supposedly a intellectual land) taken over by a non-white, the other she isn't sure if we could in the end extend trust (she is not interested in whether he is white or not; she is interested in whether Obama can bring up true intellectual/political concerns. Please, there are other political fragments that Americans are facing today, not just gay marriage or 'American issues'). Her general-democratic (regardless of whether Obama is for many others not just an intellectual but also a black intellectual; instead she treated as 'equal' in her discussion of politics) survey of the political landscape nonetheless didn't touch upon other political tensions that are also registered in the Obama issue. Thus I'd say it is not enough to question Obama as an intellectual (minority) event albeit he is a politician. He is also for a number of others a black/minority event. As such her view issued from a point of view that presupposes globalization and a refusal to talk about the 'difference' in terms of how Obama is seen by others (even among intellectuals themselves) is not self-sufficient, although I share with her question of whether politicians really bring us promise or are the best to run the country.

It's interesting to re-read this article today, after Obama's first two days in office. So far, Obama has put into motion 2 of the 3 "decisive actions" Butler names as necessary steps if he Obama wishes to maintain the support of the left. Retracting his statements on Afghanistan seems unlikely, and we have yet to hear about any new developments in his stance on the death penalty or gay marriage. The "uncritical exuberance" we saw surrounding Obama's election victory seems to have evolved into spontaneous and passionate expressions of joy and pride. Now that the pomp and circumstance of the inauguration ceremonies has passed, and our uncritical exuberance has dimmed slightly, it is encouraging to witness the first steps the Obama administration has taken. Hopefully the new administration's hubbub about transparency, accountability, and participation will actually encourage a CRITICAL eye, while maintaining some form of "exuberance"...

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