1984 und Poststrukturalismus

Wieder mal eine interessante Stelle aus Steven Pinkers „The Blank Slate“ (S. 364):

Nineteen Eighty-four was unforgettable literature, not just a political screed, because of the way Orwell thought through the details of how his society would work. Every component of the nightmare interlocked with the others to form a rich and credible whole: the omnipresent government, the eternal war with shifting enemies, the totalitarian control of the media and private life, the Newspeak language, the constant threat of personal betrayal.

Less widely known is that the regime had a well-articulated philosophy. It is explained to Winston Smith in the harrowing sequence in which he is strapped to a table and alternately tortured and lectured by the government agent O’Brien. The philosophy of the regime is thoroughly postmodernist, O’Brien explains (without, of course, using the word). When Winston objects that the Party cannot realize its slogan, ―Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past, O’Brien replies:

You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes; only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal.

In der Tat ist das Regime nutzt das Regime postmoderne Ansätze: Es gibt keine Realität, es gibt nur die Macht etwas darzustellen und wer die Darstellung beherrscht, der beherrscht das Volk. Ähnlich wie das Regime in 1984 scheint mir der Feminismus die Welt zu sehen: Die Männer haben das Patriarchat bzw. die hegemoniale Männlichkeit geschaffen, die nun die Geschichte und das Denken der Menschen formt, indem zB weibliche Beiträge zur Weltgeschichte ausradiert werden, weswegen eine „Herstory“ entwickelt werden muss. Sie selbst sehen sich dann als die Guten, die diese Beiträge wieder ans Licht bringen und merken dabei (vielleicht) gar nicht, dass sie selbst diejenigen sind, die eine Welt schaffen, die ungerecht ist, in der Männer an Allem schuld sind und in der sie mit einfachen Gut-Böse-Schemata agieren.

O’Brien admits that for certain purposes, such as navigating the ocean, it is useful to assume that the Earth goes around the sun and that there are stars in distant galaxies. But, he continues, the Party could also use alternative astronomies in which the sun goes around the Earth and the stars are bits of fire a few kilometers away. And though O’Brien does not explain it in this scene, Newspeak is the ultimate ―prisonhouse of language,‖ a ―language that thinks man and his ‗world.’‖

Auch hier erkennt man gut den poststrukturalistischen Ansatz und es wird deutlich, dass er sich in jede Richtung einsetzen lässt und das insofern eine rein konstruierte Welt auch immer eine sehr gefährliche Welt ist, weil sie jedes korrektiv aufgeben muss.

O’Brien’s lecture should give pause to the advocates of postmodernism. It is ironic that a philosophy that prides itself on deconstructing the accoutrements of power should embrace a relativism that makes challenges to power impossible, because it denies that there are objective benchmarks against which the deceptions of the powerful can be evaluated. For the same reason, the passages should give pause to radical scientists who insist that other scientists‘ aspirations to theories with objective reality (including theories about human nature) are really weapons to preserve the interests of the dominant class, gender, and race. Without a notion of objective truth, intellectual life degenerates into a struggle of who can best exercise the raw force to ―control the past.‖

Das Dilemma des Poststrukturalismus: „Alles ist Macht und alles ist konstruiert, aber wir dekonstruieren so, dass es gerecht ist“ ist ein quasi nicht zu erfüllender Ansatz, weil Gerechtigkeit selbst in dem Moment eine Konstruktion ist, die einer bestimmten Ansicht folgt

A second precept of the Party’s philosophy is the doctrine of the super-organism:

Can you not understand, Winston, that the individual is only a cell? The weariness of the cell is the vigor of the organism. Do you die when you cut your fingernails?

The doctrine that a collectivity (a culture, a society, a class, a gender) is a living thing with its own interests and belief system lies behind Marxist political philosophies and the social science tradition begun by Durkheim. Orwell is showing its dark side: the dismissal of the individual — the only entity that literally feels pleasure and pain — as a mere component that exists to further the interests of the whole. The sedition of Winston and his lover Julia began in the pursuit of simple human pleasures — sugar and coffee, white writing paper, private conversation, affectionate lovemaking. O’Brien makes it clear that such individualism will not be tolerated: ―There will be no loyalty, except loyalty to the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother.

Dass Individuum geht in einem kollektivistischen Ansatz eben immer unter, so sehr der Feminismus auch versucht das Individuum in dem Klassenansatz wieder hervorzuheben: Letztendlich wird insbesondere der „Feind“ als Kollektiv gesehen, weswegen alle Männer Privilegien haben und alle Weißen ebenso. Eine Differenzierung innerhalb dieser Kategorien, ein Aufweichen des Gut-Böse-Schemas ist nicht vorgesehen: Männer oder Weiße können nicht diskriminiert werden, müssen also in der Gruppe der Bösen bleiben und können nur mit beständigen Ablassbitten – dem Hinterfragen dieser Gruppenprivilegien – kurzzeitig Individuum werden-

The Party also believes that emotional ties to family and friends are ―habits‖ that get in the way of a smoothly functioning society:

Already we are breaking down the habits of thought that have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated…. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness.

„Alles ist Normal, nichts besonders“ wäre ja auch der Leitsatz des Feminismus. Das Geschlechterrollen biologische Grundlagen haben ist dann nur eine soziale Konstruktion, auch wenn alle wissenschaftlichen Belege dafür sprechen. Diese werden schlicht auch zu Konstruktionen erklärt.

It is hard to read the passage and not think of the current enthusiasm for proposals in which enlightened mandarins would reengineer childrearing, the arts, and the relationship between the sexes in an effort to build a better society.

Dystopian novels, of course, work by grotesque exaggeration. Any idea can be made to look terrifying in caricature, even if it is reasonable in moderation. I do not mean to imply that a concern with the interests of society or in improving human relationships is a step toward totalitarianism. But satire can show how popular ideologies may have forgotten downsides — in this case, how the notion that language, thought, and emotions are social conventions creates an opening for social engineers to try to reform them. Once we become aware of the downsides, we no longer have to treat the ideologies as sacred cows to which factual discoveries must be subordinated.

Hier liegt in der Tat ein Ansatz für Kritik: die Nachteile eines solchen Ansatzes und dessen Unvereinbarkeit mit anderweitiger Forschung müssen eben bekannter werden.