Here is the paper I have mentioned in previous posts that uses Marx and Adorno to critique pluralist democratic theory. Have a gander and leave helpful comments if you fancy:

Problematizing Pluralism
Chris O’Kane
Paper prepared for NYSPSA

I

The importance of Karl Marx’s On the Jewish Question has re-emerged in light of the myriad of recent scholarship on what is variously termed pluralism or the politics of difference. Marx’s early polemic against Bruno Bauer addresses the question of how to integrate the Jews into German society. In marked contrast to Bauer’s argument that political incorporation and the renunciation of religion will solve the matter, Marx draws a distinction between political and human emancipation and argues that political emancipation does not fully resolve the oppression of Jewish identity. Marx argues this is because political emancipation does not account for the mediating influence of the historic conditions of civil society, which creates the antagonistic identities of the German and the Jew. For Marx, it is only human emancipation that will do away with this antagonism;

All emancipation is a reduction of the human world and relationships to man himself.

Political emancipation is the reduction of man, on the one hand, to a member of civil society, to an egoistic, independent individual, and, on the other hand, to a citizen, a juridical person.

Only when the real, individual man re-absorbs in himself the abstract citizen, and as an individual human being has become a species-being in his everyday life, in his particular work, and in his particular situation, only when man has recognized and organized his “own powers” as social powers, and, consequently, no longer separates social power from himself in the shape of political power, only then will human emancipation have been accomplished.

In his lecture on “Negative Universal History,” Theodor W Adorno makes a parenthetical critique of pluralism that I will try to show has a devastating impact on pluralist democratic theory. This is because despite the fact that many pluralists utilize Adorno’s notion of the particular to advocate their politics of difference, Adorno critiques pluralism as ideological.
Following Marx, Adorno asserts that instead of addressing the conditions in civil society that oppress these divergent and antagonistic identities, pluralism operates ideologically because it taking these conditions as a given and falsely reconciles them with the very conditions that oppress them. Here Marx’s notion of the inadequacy of political emancipation absorbs pluralism;

“The term ‘pluralism’ is acquiring increasing currency in our own time. It is presumably the ideology describing the centrifugal tendencies of a society that threatens to disintegrate into unreconciled groups under the pressure of its own principles… As a minor by-product of these lectures I would like to recommend that you adopt an extremely wary attitude towards the concept of pluralism, which like the similar concept of ’social partners,’ is preached at us on every street corner. To transfigure and ideologize the elements of discontinuity or of social antagonisms in this way is a part of the general ideological trend. In the same way, it is very characteristic of our age that the very factors that threaten to blow up the entire world are represented as the peaceful coexistence of human beings who have become reconciled and have outgrown their conflicts. This is a tendency which barely conceals the fact that mankind is beginning to despair of finding a solution to its disagreements.” (93)

This paper examines how Adorno’s critique problematizes the new pluralist democratic theory. It will utilize the distinguished work of Iris Marion Young and Will Kymlicka as examples of this scholarship. By updating Adorno’s critique to address the new pluralist democratic theory, I will argue that Young and Kymlicka reify the repression of pluralist identities created by the historical conditions in civil society by treating them as a given and incorporating them into the democratic political sphere. But, this political emancipation is not human emancipation. For under Young and Kymlikca’s democratic model, oppressed groups are still subject to the historical, social and economic conditions that created the antagonisms that led to their oppression. In other words, a political pluralism that allows for the heterogeneity that diverse groups demand is inadequate because by arguing for a democratic solution in the political sphere, it masks the root cause of oppression, forcing the oppressed groups to be reconciled with the historical social and economic conditions that oppress them.
Following Adorno’s use of Marx’s concepts of use-value and exchange-value as normative concepts, I will argue that these democratic models meets Adorno’s definition of ideology because Young and Kymlicka’s reified arguments for incorporation conflate use-value with exchange-value, ultimately perpetuating the problem they are trying to solve.
This is because Kymlicka and Young’s models modify the liberal democratic sphere to include oppressed group identities. In doing so they assume that participation in a modified liberal democratic model has an inherent use-value for these groups. (democracy will meet the needs of the oppressed groups because it is democracy.) But, on the basis of my prior distinctions between political and human emancipation and the political and civil sphere, I contend that this is actually exchange-value. This is because instead of identity functioning qualitatively as a use-value to meet the needs of the individuals identity, it is absorbed into the political realm where it functions as a quantity; it becomes one vote. But, for reasons already explained this vote does nothing to satisfy the needs of oppressed people with these identities. Therefore, following Adorno and in contrast to Young and Kymlicka, these oppressed groups should actually demonstrate the false reconciliation of the capitalist totality and the impossibility of the argument for a political solution. They should serve as the basis for an argument for human emancipation. But, due to the ideological nature of the new pluralism, they are bartered for a stake in pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions that do not entail the creation of a society that instead of oppressing these groups (in the civil sphere) and treating them as any other (in the political sphere) will provide for them and treat them as they desire.
But, this critique is not meant to dismiss the problem of heterogeneity. It is obviously an important contemporary issue that must be adequately addressed by including a critique of civil society in arguments for human not political emancipation. In briefly turning to the works of Zizek, Angela Davis and Said I hope to demonstrate that this is possible.


II
In Polity and Group Difference , Iris Marion Young’s pluralist democratic theory is fundamentally ambiguous. This ambiguity results in (a) a model that undercuts itself by failing to examine the logical repercussions of some of its own premises, leading to (b) the failure to use some of her premises to examine what she posits as a given, which (c) results in a model that advocates the self acknowledged futile effort of incorporating these givens into the democratic sphere, despite the fact that for her oppression is inevitable. Here, I will try to demonstrate that by failing to examine the logical repercussions of some of her assumptions, Young reifies the oppression of group difference and ultimately advocates a model that fails to resolve this problem. This is because rather then argue for human emancipation, her pluralist democratic model settles on a form of political emancipation, which functions as an ideological abdication of the logical extension of her own argument. The result is a model that forsakes quality for quantity while undercutting her argument for particularity by advocating its absorption into the negative universal totality.
Young’s model is fundamentally ambiguous because she equivocates on the question of what is responsible for the continued oppression of different identities and what should be done to stop this oppression.
In her brief introduction, Young frames her core issue; why when “citizenship rights have been formally extended to all groups in liberal capitalist societies” do “some groups still find themselves treated as second-class citizens” by stating that “part of the answer is straightforwardly Marxist.” But, in the course of her argument she fails to examine the ramifications of the “important and correct Marxist diagnosis” to focus on a reason more “intrinsic to the meaning of politics and citizenship as expressed in modern thought.”
Yet, when Young defines this intrinsic factor- how the homogenous concept of universality does not allow for difference- it is posited as a historical development. In this model of historical development there is much discussion of how the history of gender relations, cultural relations and “the moral division of labour” led to the creation of the concept of universal citizenship, but the Marxist part of the answer has been dropped. No consideration is given to the mediating effects of civil society. Furthermore, in contrast to the historical definition of universality, group difference is treated as an a-historical given which possesses the ontological nature of Heideggarian thrownness.
The neglected Marxist part of the answer is then turned against when Young lays out her model of group representation. This is because Young contends that Marxism is a utopian viewpoint that does not account for contemporary reality. In doing so, she conflates the Marxist viewpoint that a utopian possibility exists within the existing conditions, with her the contention that it operates from a utopian viewpoint;

Perhaps in some utopian future there will be a society without group oppression and disadvantage. We cannot develop political principles by starting with the assumption of a completely just society, however, but we must begin from within the general historical and social conditions in which we exist. The means that we must develop participatory democracy…on the assumption that there are group differences and that some groups are actually or potentially oppressed or disadvantaged.

The result of these attitudes to the Marxist part of the answer is that rather then operating in the historical and social conditions and treating them as historical, Young treats them as a given just like her a-historical notion of the permanence of group difference.
These givens then serve as the basis of Young’s democratic model of differentiated citizenship. The model is three-point program that is meant to implement the general principle of specific representation for oppressed groups. It does this, essentially, by amending the liberal political sphere to include different opinions through guarantees of self-organization, “voicing a group’s analysis of how social policy affects them” and veto power. Yet, Young even acknowledges this model as “academic…since we live in a society with deep group oppressions the complete elimination of which is only a remote possibility.”
The question then, is why and how Young settled on the “academic” model she undercuts? I believe the answer lies in her failure to incorporate the ramifications of the Marxist part of the answer she neglected. For, if she had utilized Marxism in her part of the answer, the historical development of the oppressive concept of universal citizenship would be examined from the viewpoint of a historical totality. This would account for the cultural and gendered influence of the concept of universal citizenship, as well as the mediating influence civil society had on the creation of the subject. It would also give a historical context to the creation of oppressed identities, rather then treating them as an a-historical given. Lastly, by utilizing the above and choosing the Marxist utopian viewpoint- rather then the ersatz “academic” utopia Young settles on- Young would not see oppression as an inevitable given to be remedied in the democratic sphere. Rather, she would side with Marx and Adorno in seeing democratic pluralism as an inadequate solution because of its failure to address the mediating influence of civil society. Instead, by failing to integrate the two parts of her answer, and treating the concept of universal citizenship and group oppression a-historically, Young reifies them.
This results in a democratic model that fits Adorno’s notion of ideology. For, rather then addressing the totality of historical conditions that created the problems Young is addressing, Young focuses solely on the democratic sphere. The consequence is an argument for political rather then human emancipation, which on the basis of its own givens attempts to reconcile oppressed groups with the very conditions that created their oppression. Here, the qualitative use-value that the utopia of human emancipation could provide these oppressed groups is sacrificed for the lesser quantitative model of political integration where oppressed groups are assured of their status as exchange-value, in a model even the author sees as an inevitably flawed lesser utopia.

III

Kymlikca’s Multicultural Citizenship argues for a liberal basis for multicultural citizenship. This puts his liberal assumptions at odds with Marx and Adorno’s assumptions and the assumptions of this paper. This is because Kymlicka’s liberal basis attempts to “manage” the problem of multiculturalism by absorbing suitable cases into his liberal framework. His argument for “toleration and its limits” is a straightforward argument for liberal democratic reconciliation. For, while certain civil and political exceptions are made for different cultures, like allowing Sikh police officers to wear their traditional head dress instead of a helmet, no room is allowed for ill-liberal, let alone radical egalitarian social demands.
Kymlicka’s liberal assumptions give precedence to the individual and individual choice. For him the state and the political sphere exist to protect and represent these choices as rights. But, these assumptions fail to address social and economic factors. In other words, Kymlicka operates from a framework that can address political emancipation but cannot consider human emancipation. This results in a contention similar to Young’s; that the concept of political rights- and what he calls “majoritarian decision-making”-have rendered “cultural minorities vulnerable to significant injustice at the hands of the majority” and must be modified to incorporate these groups.
But, in what some may see as irony, Kymlicka uses the liberal idea of freedom of individual choice and equality to modify these rights. He does so by arguing that that the cultural context of a nation or culture are “cultural preconditions” for the “liberal value of freedom of choice.” Culture is seen as a prerequisite for choice “because it provides options and makes them meaningful to us.” Here culture is liberalised. It is conceived as something that helps you choose “the good”, provided this choice meets standards available within the liberal framework. But, the problem with this argument is that on one had it raises the question of how multi-cultural and pluralist Kymlicka’s model is and on the other how effective it is in resolving the difficult circumstances that lead to theorizing about politics of difference in the first place.
This is evident when Kymlicka moves to using his liberal basis to deal with empirical instances of multiculturalism. Here, he creates neat analytical distinctions to define different forms of multi-culturalism, such as “multi-national” and “polyethnic” states. For the former, such as Quebec, Kymlicka offers a set of proposals for self-government. For the later, he offers a set of group rights similar to Young’s. In addition to choice, these measures are justified because they ensure equality in what Kymlicka calls “the cultural marketplace” and where they “promot[e] cultural diversity within the mainstream culture.” But here, and elsewhere, Kymlicka’s theory comes up against “hard cases” where his liberal model does not work.
These hard cases fall into two categories. The first stem from cultures that are not liberal. Here Kymlicka’s solution is to talk of “toleration and its limits.” His solutions to this dilemma are rather opaque and restrictive. In the case of non-liberal nations “the aim of liberals should not be to dissolve non-liberal nations, but rather to seek to liberalize them.” In the case of internal non-liberal minority cultures, they must be forced to meet his liberal standards. In these hard cases Kymlikca’s liberal multiculturalism is not multicultural.
The second category of hard cases stem from demands that do not fit into Kymlicka’s liberal model or his neat analytical categories. Here, in the case of involuntary immigrants who had no choice in immigration, Kymlicka is forced to relegate his liberal model to an “ideal theory.” In this instance, Kymlicka leaves the political sphere to state that “the only long-term solution is to remedy the unjust international distribution of resources.” Yet, in doing so he has undercut his own argument by demonstrating the inapplicability of his liberal model to cases that make the question of pluralism necessary.
What then is there to conclude about a model that cannot meet its own standards and how does it relate to this papers critique? I believe the answers coincide. For in resting on liberal assumptions that fail to take the mediating influence of the historical social and economic considerations into consideration, Kymlicka settles on his liberal multicultural political answer. But, as we have seen, the consequence of this is a model that is not multicultural and which is forced to resort to an extra-liberal answer when faced with hard cases created by the factors that mediate political life, such as the socio economic sphere. In failing to adapt his model to the logical conclusions of these two failings Kymlicka treats his other cases in bad faith.
This result then meets Adorno’s criteria as an ideological model because the attempted forced reconciliation, of liberal pluralist incorporation into the liberal democratic state, does not address the external factors that created these demands, nor does it assure that political representation will meet these demands or end these injustices. Instead, the quality of an individuals cultural identity is truly transformed into the quantitative liberal individual where, on the nature of its own assumptions, the only answer to what a liberal multicultural politics will be can be through the avenue of a multicultural liberal politics that fails to meet its own weak aspirations.
IV
So how do we approach the politics of pluralism while accounting for its mediating factors? Here it seems, Jameson was partially right. Not only is Adorno relevant now, but the proof of this is actualized in Zizek and Angela Davis’s work on the politics of difference.
This is evident in the newest manifestation of Zizek’s critique of multiculturalism/tolerance/pluralism. In these recent articles and talks, Zizek critiques multiculturalism/tolerance/pluralism from the perspective of the lost cause of the universal critique of capitalism. He argues that calls for pluralism and tolerance alleviate the symptoms of racism, sexism etc. without addressing the structure that creates these symptoms. In The Liberal Utopia, for instance, he identifies this structure as the neo-liberal capitalist totality. He further argues that this totality functions as a negative universality. This makes heterogeneous individuals- interpreted as givens by the liberal politics of difference- a fragment or particular aspect of this universality; it makes the politics of difference an expression of capitalism’s antagonisms.
Parallels with Adorno and Zizek can also be drawn in the work of Angela Davis. In her classic works such as Women and Capitalism: Dialectics of Oppression and Liberation and Race and Criminalization Davis extends a Marxian analysis to the oppression of women, the creation of institutional racism etc. In tying the oppression of these disparate identities to historical circumstances and arguing that only human emancipation can lead to reconciliation, Davis extends the critique of her former teacher, Adorno, to the plural politics of today.
Here, Zizek, and Davis meet Said’s humanism, which can be summed up in his frequent use of CLR James famous quote. For contra the pluralist democratic theory of Kymlicka and Young, Zizek, Davis, Said and James argue that it is imperative to realize that you can’t have a rendezvous without the victory.

“the work of man is only just beginning and it remains to conquer all the violence entrenched in the recess of our passion and no race possesses the monopoly of beauty, of intelligence, of force, and there’s a place for all at the rendezvous of victory.”

V
This paper has utilized Marx’s On the Jewish Question and Adorno’s critique of pluralism to interrogate modern pluralist democratic theory. Following Marx and Adorno, I have argued that Young and Kymlicka reify the repression of pluralist identities created by the historical conditions in the Hegelian conception of civil society. I have argued Young and Kymlicka have done this by treating the conditions that create the oppression of these disparate identities as a given by constructing theoretical models that incorporate these givens into the democratic political sphere. The consequence for these democratic theories is that they argue for political emancipation and not human emancipation. For under Young and Kymlikca’s democratic models, oppressed groups will still be subject to the historical, social and economic conditions that created the antagonisms that oppressed them in the first place. In other words, their political pluralism- which allows for a heterogeneity that diverse groups demand- is inadequate because by arguing for a democratic solution in the political sphere, it ideologically masks the root cause of oppression, forcing the oppressed groups to be reconciled with the historical social and economic conditions that oppress them.
In Young’s case I argued that by failing to examine the logical repercussions of what she calls the Marxist part of the answer, Young ends up reifying the oppressive historical grounds of group difference, ultimately advocating a model that even she acknowledges fails to resolve this problem. This is because rather then argue for human emancipation, her pluralist democratic model has settled on a form of political emancipation, which functions as an ideological abdication of the logical extension of her own argument. This results in a model that has forsaken the qualitative needs her politics of difference is trying to address for a quantitative form of assured political participation, but a political participation with almost nothing in the way of guarantees that will address the needs of disparate groups let alone rectify the factors that have created the conditions that have led to their oppression.

In Kymlicka’s case I argued that his liberal form of multicultural citizenship failed to meet its goals of being (a) multicultural and (b) addressing the problems of pluralism through liberalism. I tried to show that this is because of the inherent nature of his liberal assumptions, which (a) fail to address the mediating influence of the historical social and economic considerations and (b) believe liberal democracies normative value is self-evident. We have seen the repercussions of how these assumptions played out in the inability of Kymlicka’s model to solve the hard cases where disparate groups hold ill-liberal values or the nature of a group’s circumstances cannot be solved by liberalism. For, in these cases- which seem to be the cases that create the question of the politics of pluralism- Kymlicka’s privileging of liberal values, his advocacy of converting non-liberals to liberalism and refusal to tolerate their cultural practices are the anti-thesis of a fully realized multi-culturalism. Additionally, his move to address the extra-liberal aspects of social-economic factors and regulation of his model to an ideal model when confronted with the problem of forced immigration completely undermines the ability of liberalism to address the problem of group oppression. The consequence of this is a model that is not multicultural and which is forced to resort to an extra-liberal answer when faced with hard cases created by the factors that mediate political life, such as the socio economic sphere. The result is ideological because Kymlicka’s model obscures the problems that ultimately undermine it.
This attempted forced reconciliation does not address the external factors that created these demands, nor does it assure that political representation will meet these demands or end these injustices. Instead, the quality of an individuals cultural identity is truly transformed into the quantitative liberal individual where, on the nature of its own assumptions, the only answer can be through the avenue of a multicultural liberal politics that fails to meet its own weak aspirations.

Utilizing Adorno’s use of Marx’s concepts of use-value and exchange-value as normative concepts, I further argued that Young and Kymlicka’s democratic models have met the definition of ideology Adorno lays out in his critique of pluralism. I have sought to demonstrate this by arguing that Young and Kymlicka’s reified arguments for incorporation have conflated use-value with exchange-value, which ultimately perpetuates the problem they are trying to solve.
This is because in (1) modifying the liberal democratic sphere to include oppressed group identities, Young and Kymlicka, assume that participation in a modified liberal democratic model has an inherent use-value for these groups. But, (2) through the utilization of the distinction between political and human emancipation and the political and civil sphere, I contended that this was actually exchange-value, with (3) the consequence that identity is absorbed into the political realm where it functions as a quantity rather functioning as a qualitative use-value that meet the needs of the individuals identity. But, as I have hopefully demonstrated, this form of political emancipation is not sufficient for satisfying the needs of oppressed people with these identities. Instead, I hope, the oppressed groups in Young and Kymlicka’s models have demonstrated the impossibility of the argument for a solely political solution. This being the case, they should serve as the basis for an argument for human emancipation. But, instead, due to what I have designated as the ideological nature of Young and Kymlicka’s pluralist democratic theory, these groups have been bartered for a stake in pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions that do not entail the creation of a society that instead of oppressing these groups (in the civil sphere) and treating them as any other (in the political sphere) will provide for them and treat them as they desire.
Thus, rather then addressing the capitalist antagonism that creates these groups, Young and Kymlicka have reconciled these groups with their conditions. Exchange-value has been substituted for use-value further perpetuating negative universality.
What then for the politics of difference? I hope this paper has not minimized the problem of heterogeneity that confronts the modern world. But, I do hope I have shown that in the case of oppressed groups, addressing the issue from a strictly political framework is ineffective. This why I believe the work of Zizek and Davis is invaluable. For them a reformed democracy does not automatically serve needs because it bears the name democracy. Instead social and political movements and theories must create a politics that serves these needs. Only then will the rendezvous and the victory coincide and meet the utopia of non-identity Adorno advocates over and against the pluralists who utilize him;
To sum up in a rather bolder way, an achieved identity, in other words, the elimination of conflict, the reconciliation of all those who are opposed to one another because their interests are irreconcilable, an achieved identity does not mean the identity of all subsumed beneath a totality, a concept, an integrated society. A truly achieved identity would have to be the consciousness of a non-identity, or, more accurately perhaps, it would have to be the creation of a reconciled non-identity.

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