[TAU Philosophy] Dr. Anat Matar
Anat Matar (Tel Aviv University) spoke at the London Conference in Critical Thought, an annual event of critical international scholars, critical human rights advocates and other radical post-modernists.
Critical ethics is a variation of the theme that there no objective, empirical standards in societal discourse. Critical ethics is a another way of saying that those who engage in political debate should follow subjective ethics, a notion elaborated upon by the British philosopher Simon Critchley. Critchley states that to tackle injustice scholars need to adopt "ethically committed political anarchism."
For Matar, even this radical take on ethics of discourse is too much. She asserts that such ethics are a residue of liberal-democratic thought. She "proves" that in the Israeli-Palestinian case, such ethics are instruments of "conservative power" that are at best "hypocrite" and at worse "oppressive." Though her English is convoluted, the message is clear; any claim by Israel is "hypocrite" and "oppressive."
As IAM reported in the past, Matar made good use of radical ethics by urging to grant Palestinian terrorists the status of political prisoners. Those who may question her rationale need to seek the answer in the parallel universe that critical ethics has created- a universe where Palestinian terrorists are the victims and the Israelis who die at their hands are the perpetrators.
LONDON CONFERENCE IN CRITICAL THOUGHT
University of London
29th & 30th June, 2012
The role of ethics for radical political discourse
What role does ethical rhetoric play in radical political discourse? What role should it play? Contrary
to what is usually taken for granted, I argue that the answer to the latter question is "none": far from
yielding a stable basis for radical political discourse and action, ethics stands on their way. I justify
this claim through two channels: conceptual analysis and examination of empirical facts, which
attempt a reply to my first question, about the actual role actually played nowadays by ethical
discourse as a hindrance to radical politics.
The conceptual part of my argument is formulated, in the present paper, as a rejoinder to Simon
Critchley's book, Infinitely Demanding – Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance. For Critchley,
the present experience of political disappointment of liberal democracies provokes the need for
ethical and meta-ethical positions which should form a basis on which radical political theory and
practice in the 21st century could be formulated and justified. True democracy, for Critchley, is a
dissensual practice, based mainly on the idea of an infinite responsibility that arises in relation to a
situation of injustice.
Although I share much of Critchley's political vision, I strongly believe that ethics isn't at all its
needed foundation. On the contrary: ethics is a residue of precisely the same liberal-democratic
thought that both Critchley and I wish to eventually transcend. Following Marx, Nietzsche and
Foucault I maintain that the discourse of responsibility comes out strikingly close to Victorian charity
discourse. In my paper I offer a detailed argument for this claim.
A paradigmatic example of the damaging role played by ethical rhetoric in present-day political
discourse in Israel clarifies my empirical claim. Both channels of argument, conceptual and empirical,
lead me to conclude that the role of ethics in liberal democracies is mainly an instrument of
conservative powers, a tool which is, in the best case, hypocrite, and in the worse case oppressive.