BOOK REVIEWS (2013): Nussbaum and Cohen’s (2002) For Love of Country? [Yet Again]

15 May 2013


Instead of turning its citizens into slaves, instead of demanding that citizens should take the neoliberal’s lead and both stop expecting handouts and also get out into the world to determine their own fate (even as neoliberalism outsources overseas the very circumstances of opportunity that would make such go-getting possible), instead of further enclosing its citizens either literally in prisons or economically in poverty, instead of more and more reneging on its obligations to its citizens while demanding even more strenuously that citizens keep up their end of the bargain, the leaders of our immoral economies might remember their own dignity, might stop humiliating themselves with cowardly dissimulation, false promises, and paralyzing helplessness that seeming to have no choice leaves them, and remember instead that spirit of largesse, faith in abundance, and motivating honor that accrues rightly to those who take their responsibilities to others seriously.


Last year in 2012, I set myself the task to read at least ten pages per day, and now I’m not sure if I kept up. I have the same task this year, and I’ve added that I will write a book reaction for each one that I finish (or give up on, if I stop). These reactions will not be Amazon-type reviews, with synopses, background research done on the author or the book itself, unless that strikes me as necessary or if the book inspired me to that when I read it. In general, these amount to assessments of in what ways I found the book helpful somehow.

Consequently, I may provide spoilers, may misunderstand books or get stuff wrong, or get off on a gratuitous tear about the thing in some way, &c. I may say stupid stuff, poorly informed stuff. There are some in the world who expect everyone to be omniscient and can’t be bothered to engage in a human dialogue toward figuring out how to make the world a better place. To the extent that each reaction I offer for a book is a here’s what I found helpful about this, then it is further up to us (you, me, us) to correct, refine, trash and start over, this or whatever it is we see as potentially helpful toward making the world a better place. If you can’t be bothered to take up your end of that bargain, that’s part of the problem to be solved.

A Third Reaction To: Nussbaum and Cohen’s (2002)[1] For Love of Country?

This book consists of numerous essays responding to a piece by Nussbaum (2002)[2] that appeared in the October/November 2002 edition of The Boston Review, which at the time also included 29 replies; in this edition, compiled after 9/11, eleven original responses re included plus five new ones, along with a concluding reply by Nussbaum. Since this is 18 essays in all, I may react more than once to this book. This is the third.

This time, five essays in the collection—Falk’s (2002) [3] “Revisioning Cosmopolitanism, Glazer’s (2002)[4] Limits of Loyalty, Gutman’s (2002)[5] Democratic Citizenship,” Himmelfarb’s (2002)[6] “The Illusions of Cosmopolitanism,” and McDonnell’s (2002)[7] “Don’t Neglect the Little Platoons”—occur in a sequence; I propose to respond to them in reverse order, while disregarding Gutman’s contribution at least for now because she seems to have gotten into some personally invested and directed hairsplitting with Nussbaum that obscures whatever points she aims at.

Family Is Not Everything

McConnell (2002), beginning with a complaint that the kids of today (in the United States) not only care no whit for other cultures but also not for their own, rehearses the platitudes from Burke and Aristotle that “home affections begin close to home; wider circles of affection grow out of, and are dependent upon, the closer and more natural ties” (79).

Aristotle envisioned society as a hierarchy of attachments—family, household, village, and finally the polis itself—and was skeptical of the ability of any community larger than the polis to serve as  locus of fellowship or of citizenship in the strong sense. Burke put it this way: “To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed toward a love to our country and to mankind” (79).

As a first note, McConnell undermines his own point here later by noting that the tie of religion often “cuts across national boundaries and enjoins us to care for the alien and the stranger” (83); one may arrive at this position without previous affection for, perhaps specifically because of no previous affection for, family, household, village, or polis.

McConnell emphasizes teaching or locally particularized indoctrination as essential this the sort of ring-like development of affection for and concern for others advocated by Burke and Aristotle; and one does not doubt at all that Burke, having argued from this position, exemplified in his behavior over the course of his life a genuine concern for his fellow human beings. Besides an abstract objection to the coherence of this conclusion, what McConnell does not address involves those people who never had the advantages of this ring-like expansion of affections in the first place. He, and others who make a similar point so wearisomely—Glazer (2002) to some extent and Himmelfarb (2002) grotesquely—overlook entirely the experience not simply of those who feel alienated from family, household, village, and polis (whether with or without an education in any great moral tradition as McConnell proposes) but who found themselves not served by the content of the locally available affections. The transracially adopted child, to pick only one example, of necessity has no choice but to make a purse of the sow’s ear of culture she finds herself thrown into whether she will or not.

What seems to perverse in McConnell’s argument arises from his insistent on the efficacy of education in the formation of a person’s affections and then insisting that one’s affections “are dependent upon, the closer and more natural ties” (79). Not that nature and nature stand mutually deaf and blind to one another, but if one develops affections for those closest to one first, then this occurs because we learn it. By that very argument then, those closest to a child might take it upon themselves to teach those children that affection for those closest to them amounts to bigotry, parochialism, or whatnot. The platitude and fact runs: children do not spring from the womb as sexist, homophobic, and racist[8]—those closest to them, along with their immediate environment, teach them these things.

Aristotle and Burke provide a discourse about and for the development of affective attachment that licenses McConnell to make normative claims about lived human experience.  His declaration of this as natural provides the largest red flag for this disingenuous move. Himmelfarb gets uglier with this, and I mention in passing that she, McConnell, and Glazer—who writes, “I acknowledge that no loyalty should be higher than loyalty to one’s religion or to basic human values” (61)—implicitly and explicitly launch their attacks on cosmopolitan from (at least partly) religious objections to it. McConnell says of the values he believes Nussbaum argues for, “There is something peculiar about invoking the ancient teachings of the Stoics and the Cynics in support of ideas that are taught every week in Sunday school” (83–4).

As a hinge to Himmelfarb’s screed, we may cite one last remark from McConnell, “A student who has no religion is unlikely to respect to religious commitments of others” (80); he neglects the immediate corollary: a student who has religious commitments will likely not respect the enlightened rejection of religious commitments in other. Himmelfarb closes with:

Above all, what cosmopolitanism obscures, even denies, are the givens of life: parents, ancestors, family, race, religion, heritage, history, culture, tradition, community—and nationality. These are not “accidental” attributes of the individual. They are essential attributes. We do not come into the world as free-floating, autonomous individuals. We come into it complete with all the particular, defining characteristics that go into a fully formed human being, a being with an identity. Identity is neither an accident nor a matter or choice. It is given, not willed. We may, in the course of our lives, reject or alter one or another of these givens, perhaps for good reason. But we do so at some cost to the self. The “protean self,” which aspires to create an identity de novo, is an individual without identity, just as the person who repudiates his nationality is a person without a nation (77).

Himmelfarb then declares the values of cosmopolitanism illusory; another striking lapse—or dissembling piece of ideology more like—just as perverse as McConnell’s disregard for the content taught in any “great moral tradition of education” since Himmelfarb’s race, history, tradition, &c., stand as equally illusory. Perhaps more than anyone else, the adopted child understands that parents, ancestors, family, &c., above all constitute accidental attributes; a fact that gets obscured by the accident of getting raised by people who claim to have spawned you in the culture where that occurred. The kind of conflation of nature and nurture Himmelfarb accepts, mistakes, and asserts as given—as natural, as necessity—the adopted child understands in no conflation at all. Or, at least, they stand to experience the disjunction of it the more “alien” they seem to the parents and culture(s) they find themselves placed in.

But like McConnell, Himmelfarb’s circular argument puts the “givens” of parents, ancestors, family, &c, as the only recognized source of affections. Indeed, “we do not come into the world as free-floating, autonomous individuals” (77); Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious attempts to identify the psychoid or phenomenological base all humans share, not—as he frequently had to make clear—in any pre-formed imagery that somehow, mysteriously resides like a Platonic ideal within the unconscious, but as dispositions or orientations toward certain forms of though. For instance, the hyperemphasis on the Mother archetype does not argue we have some nebulous edition of Isis Or Astarte lurking in the vicinity of our medulla oblongata, but that our numinous experience of the “source” out of which we do not only suspect but may actually experience ourselves as having emerged from finds at least one adequate and capacious representation of that (archetypal) experience in the image of the Great Mother. If we indulge in a blunt and shallow Freudianism, we may project this experience onto our human parents, but we do so primarily and only because the cultural discourse tells us, “That is where you came from; they constitute your source.”

The adoptive child does not get mesmerized by this assertion, for obvious reasons—the people who raise her do not constitute her Source. Jung, though not adopted, similarly and unambiguously recommended against identifying one’s parents, and especially one’s mother, as the Mother. But by the same token, we needn’t identify even the experience (or description of the experience) of the Source with the Mother either; again, She represents an adequate, an obvious, choice of metaphor but by no means a given as the only one. Children who lack the luxury of not becoming mesmerized by the notion, “My biological parents are my Source,” must then deal with the wound inflicted, and the ignorance imposed, by exactly the conflation of nature and nurture Himmelfarb describes here. Obviously, she calls this natural or given, in part because the outrageous affront to human dignity that inflicts an accident of Fate on one at the very moment one first comes into the world constitutes one of the nastier “givens” of human life. Himmelfarb superciliously rambles on—adopting the mien of an old woman who knows better than everyone else—about parents, ancestors, family, &c., without acknowledging the fundamental unfairness embodied in this: that one (in almost every case) gets born into not the King’s family, into poverty, privation, &c.

At the very beginning of the life of our arguably most innocent creature, the newborn, a flagrant act of lottery condemns it to whatever condition chance or Fate decrees—the very notion of Fate already comprising a solace against the mere randomness actually involved. More precisely, the child exists due to the desires or lack of them of those who begot them. Thus the question, “Did I ask Thee, maker, to mold me so?” offers an  apt challenge. For even the King’s child might rail at her rotten luck, even if she possesses every advantage of wealth, loveliness, intelligence, wisdom, talent, accomplishment, education, and a life of supreme personal and social significance. The demand for gratitude on the part of children comprises the first major slap in the face over against the child’s audaciously Job-like question to the “given” of the Yahweh-like autocracy of parents.

In contrast to Himmelfarb’s smarmy arrogance, Glazer couches his approach in special pleading; “Do we not sense, though, whatever the inadequacy of our principled ethical arguments, that we owe more to our family members than to others?” (63). Glazer emphasizes what we owe here, rather than affective bonds per se; here appears the specter of demanded gratitude. This demand for gratitude resembles, if does not actually amount to, victim-blaming, and so-called biological offspring more readily fall victim to it than the adopted child, because the very existence of the so-called biological child gets made contingent on the sperm and egg donors. Whatever an adopted child owes the people who raised her, if anything, gratitude for mere existence does not enter the negotiations.

Here again with glazer, however, by what necessity should one assume a priori greater obligation to our family members than others? In the first place, this leaves unexamined what constitutes a family member—a point that varies widely not only across many cultures but also in specific examples of families within culture.  How did it come to pass that no one taught me to call you my brother or my sister? Who taught me that my (adopted) sister constitutes a part of my family to whom I might owe more, but not my scores of cousins? The argument becomes circular again—I owe more to my family members because my family members say I owe more. And Glazer simply parrots this doxa, doubtless inherited from his family. However, since what lies at the root of this involves someone merely declaring what family consists of (that I or anyone might owe more to), then if I declare that that Glazer comprises a part of my family, then that very injunction would (might likely) induce me to sense an obligation to him and he to me that otherwise we would both ignore.

Burke’s point or McConnell’s might insist that the real and genuine sense of obligation Glazer might feel for me and vice versa were either of us to assert, “You’re my family,” generates that feeling at all only because I learned the affective argument of that initially from those closest to me. Not so. Without devolving into needless autobiography, my sense of obligation to family in its nuclear sense gets far less traction in me than other affective attachments—if I limit myself only to imagining that affective attachments warrant mention in this kind of context. All of these authors, save for Falk who does not address it, resort continuously and unimaginatively to affect as the benchmark of motivation.

Unprincipled (or insufficiently principled) people, precisely for want that insufficiency, may resort to affect to determine their course of action, but this doesn’t make the habit universal. One might favorably or unfavorably slander acting on principle as in reality acting on a kind of affect, in which case we may call acting on affect as in reality acting on a kind of principle and go ‘round in circles for a hound’s age. The point again involves pointing to the assumed “gush” that the products of a so-called biological child’s family life, however horrific or wonderful, assume as given, exemplified in statements like “blood is thicker than water” or “family is everything”. For all the pother lambasting Nussbaum for failing to recognize her supposedly universal cosmopolitanism as culture-bound, we may locate an even more far-ranging failure of recognition for the culture-bound character of “universal” family life. Glazer insists, “The greater closeness of bonds to one’s country and countrymen need not mean denigration an disrespect for others” (63). The fact that it does, has, and continues to makes this something more like pious wishful thinking, and Butler’s (2002)[9] discussion of universalism and particularism (explored here) far more thoroughly examines how Glazer’s special pleading not only misses the point but leaves open and unaddressed, in its wishful thinking, the cultural orientation and framing toward denigration an disrespect that greater closeness of bonds to one’s country and countrymen affects.

The Erosion of Moral Economies

In Changing Life: Genomes, Ecologies, Bodies, And Commodities, Taylor (1997)[10] introduces the concept of moral economy identified in García-Barrios and García-Barrios’ (1990)[11] political-ecological analysis, whereby “rich caciques supervised a stable moral economy of norms and reciprocal expectations among unequal, cooperating agents, and a stable agro-ecology of hillside terracing during the nineteenth century in villages in Oaxaca, Mexico. This system depended on and made possible their keeping the villages isolated from markets (214).

A key element in this kind of moral economy requires the actual honoring of the reciprocal expectations, especially on the part of the privileged partner—the rich caciques—in such economies.  This involves a social contract, yes, but insofar as contracts have at least the conceit of leveling the playing field with respect to those entering into them, this kind of moral economy does not pretend hierarchical relations do not prevail between the parties. Feudalism presents a picture of the obvious forebear of this kind of moral economy.[12]

One might immediately argue that a central weakness of such a moral economy arises precisely from the fact that little exists to enforce reciprocation by the privileged partner. Since García-Barrios and García-Barrios demonstrate that such a social arrangement actually did order nineteenth century Oaxacan life for a time, this objection brings to mind the objection that bumblebees can’t fly. More pertinently, we might ask what induced the rich caciques to honor their reciprocal obligations.

Put cynically, one might call it vanity; framed differently, a sense of honor (toward those deemed subordinate but also toward those deemed one’s peers) comes into play. Either way, self-interest in a primarily or singularly economic sense remains off the table. Insofar as one’s moral character concerns ultimately how one behaves towards other people, economic considerations become (in this case at least) subordinate to merely financial gain. This particularly warrants deeming such economies moral economies. They exhibit a social structure organized around the values and needs of one’s behavior toward another. So whether self-interest in this case devolves to vanity or honor, one’s social conduct (good and bad) does not come under that term regularly gets thrown around now: market discipline. Here instead, one follows a different discipline.

I do not intend to idealize this but only to point to the actuality and possibility of it as an alternative to the supposedly unavoidable current norm that Falk illustrates so well. He shows how NFTA and GATT under Clinton represents the wider world’s pressures that currently erode the power of the state, and especially the humane state. Falk did not have Obama’s example, but doubtless he would point to moves by the Obama administration as even more indicative. Globalization has displaced and decentered in large measure the ability of the state to continue as it has for centuries—so long as it politely refuses to nationalize industries, i.e., so long as it declines to use its military prerogative to put in check corporatism.

For Falk, patriotism and cosmopolitanism alike remain reactionary and naïve with respect to the changing world of globalization. “traditional patriotism, basing itself on the humanistic potentialities of the national community, is now a self-contradictory posture, making its line of anticosmopolitan argumentation unconvincing to the extent that it evades the challenges of globalization, including its own submission” (56); but also, “a credible cosmopolitanism has to be combined with a critique of the ethically edificial globalism embodied in neoliberal modes of thought and the globalism that is being enacted in a manner that minimizes the ethical and visionary content of conceiving the world as a whole” (57). Hence,

To take better account of globalizing tendencies (from above and from below) we need to disengage the practice of democracy from its traditional state/society nexus … If global economic governance structures are reoriented to express a kind of equilibrium between market-oriented (globalization-from-above) and people-oriented (globalization-from-below), then it is possible that political space will be recreated to enable the reemergence of the humane state. It is worth recalling that the earlier manifestations of the human state merged as a consequence of an equilibrium within the territorial states that balanced the logic of the market against the social logic of the labor movement, and that the capitalism of the early nineteenth century rested on predatory behavior of unregulated market behavior that produced such social ills as child labor, unsafe working conditions, and job insecurity, while regulated capitalism later introduced workplace standards, labor unions an strikes, as well as minimum wages and social security. At present, the neurotic state is trapped between the compromises produced by social regulation of marketplace behavior and the new dynamics of essentially unregulated economic globalism. These competing forces common produce divergences between promises an performance of a depth and consistency that transcend the typical behavior of politicians who promise too much or who tilt their performance to satisfy an array of special interests (59–60).

We may understand Obama’s proposed assault on social security in this light if with the solace that any sitting president would feel oblige to undertake this.

From Falk’s helpful, if distressing, framing, we may return to the notion of a moral economy. Without getting buried in specific details, we may first imagine the emergence of a moral economy in terms of mutual self-interest: the nonprivileged group in the economy has numerical superiority that the privileged party lacks, while the privileged party has access to various resources that the nonprivileged party lacks. Thus, something like a patronage gets established. We might find, in the earliest phases of this arrangement, that the relative power between both parties evens out; or perhaps we’d find a temptation to read things that way. Amongst the native people of Australia, social structures of mutual obligation occurred that did not require a steep hierarchy. One totemic group, which had responsibility for performing the increase rites for a given totem plant or animal, typically had a ban on consuming the totem as well. Thus, other groups would approach that totem, requesting and funding the performance of those rites. Of course, the group performing the rite similarly had to approach and provide the material resources to other totems for the performance of those increase rites as well. In this way, the direct benefit of the increase rite—the increase of edible food-stuffs—got detached from the group providing the service.

So long as, for whatever reason, the hierarchically arranged parties of a moral economy continue to honor their mutual obligations, then we call the stability this affords agreeable all else remaining equal. However, at least in the context of European feudalism, it seems that more and more that the privileged parties of the prevailing moral economies came more and more to renege on their obligations, in part because they became able to orient “horizontally” (to other privileged parties of other moral economies) to meet their needs rather than to sustain the “vertical” relationship an obligation owed to their nonprivileged parties. Or, rather than a reneging with malice aforethought, the increasing contact in “the world” brought to bear pressures that shifted the ability of vertical moral hierarchies to continue to honor their vertical obligations.

This resembles the diagnosis Falk offers. For example, the successful Swedish social model has suffered reversals in the world context due to globalizing forces. Thus,

left-liberal and social-democratic political parties and leaders [feel induced] to abandon their traditional humanistic goals to join with their conservative “adversaries” to reduce taxes, roll back wages and welcome, promote privatization and the free flow of capital, and generally adapt to the pressures exerted by regional and global market forces. Because this pattern can be traced globally in many diverse settings, it seems correct to treat it as a structural and defining attribute of the current phrase of international history. Its specific consequence is to preclude for the indefinite future the reestablishment of the humane state” (54–5).

Thus, the humanistic orientation of the state—analogous to the moral high-mindedness of the privileged party in a moral economy—breaks down as “lateral” changes external to the vertical orientation of the state vis-à-vis its citizens makes untenable—so the argument seems and goes—honoring the privileged party’s reciprocal obligation, without of course suspending the demand that the nonprivileged party continue to keep up its end of the bargain.

Thus, the situation more begins to resemble slavery insofar as the nonprivileged party more and more finds itself pinned to the land, voluntarily or not, and more and more repressed as regards any power of protest, i.e., peasant revolts. Unlike a strict moral economy, however, the present case dissociates the king/priest function. Where previously, the privileged party (as duke, king, warlord) generally had the imprimatur of (holy) sanction as well, the current situation has the corporation (the modern incarnation of the church)and the state tacitly separated. The corporation act like rich peasants who become increasingly independent of regulation by the caciques. &c.

Adapting Falk’s terminology, he asserts that the misery brought about by nineteenth century industrialization-from-above (as a new round of original accumulation) got answered by the industrialization-from-below of the world proletariat (as the labor movements and their consequences in the twentieth century). From this, we might optessmistically[13] foresee that the current globalization-from-above (represented most of all by the imperial expansion of neoliberal capitalism) shall get answered by a globalization-from-below (signs of which we may see already, though not in the United States, England, South Africa, or Israel, of course).

In addition to the development of bodies for globalized economic governance that challenge the current rapacious varieties[14] and activist globalization-from-below as Falk advocates, we may call as well or at least serve as a reminder that economies not organized according to disingenuously named market discipline remain available as alternatives. In his study of the thirteenth-century Old French romance Geoffroi of Poitou, Dragonetti (1985)[15] traces the aristocratic value and conceit of largesse:

When Marcabru announces to Geoffroi [of Poitou] that the Count of Toulouse is systematically ravaging the Poitou lands and has already burned all of the towns except Poitiers (line 3681), Geoffroi shows no anxiety, but instead replies:

Nous referons les chasteaus buens,
Qu’assez avons avoir et pierre,
Et li areine rest legiere
Mult a troveir en mon païs;
Et si danz Anfos m’a sorpris
D’ardoir ma terre par outrage,
Encore i puet avoir damage         [ll. 3686–92]

We shall rebuild strong castles, for we have enough money and stones, and sand is easy to find in my country. And if lord Alphonse has attacked and insulted me, burning my lands, he can expect my revenge (103).

Dragonetti’s main thesis in his essay pursues the preeminence and value of largesse as expressed in this romance and the Weltanschauung that composed it. Geoffroi and Geoffroi alike occupy a world of abundance; one where generosity and faith in the renewability of materials gets assumed. Absolutely, this sense of abundance and largesse arises from the very fact that Geoffroi owns lands and serfs, and we might find his breezy insouciance about whatever misery has occurred to those who live in his town insensitive, but he equally clearly intends to rebuild everything, to address the wrong done to him and “his” people. Fearlessly, he declares that Alphonse may expect his revenge. If as late as the thirteenth-century this attitude of indefatigable largesse and sense of richness, even in the face of a disaster that would send most these days screaming for emergency services and a civil lawyer all at once, seems striking enough to suggest that we have, indeed, passed some kind of historical border out of “another era,” nevertheless we cannot ignore that it once privileged and ordered the world, that it earned the commitment of the well-to-do to it as a value.


[1] Nussbaum, MC, and Cohen, J (ed.) (2002). For love of country? (A New Democracy Forum On The Limits Of Patriotism), pp. 3–17, Boston: Beacon Press.

[2] Nussbaum, MC (2002). Patriotism and cosmopolitanism. In Nussbaum, MC, and Cohen, J (ed.) (2002). For love of country? (A New Democracy Forum On The Limits Of Patriotism), pp. 3–17, Boston: Beacon Press.

[3] Falk, R. (2002). Revisioning cosmopolitanism. In MC Nussbaum with respondents, J Cohen (ed.), For love of country? (A New Democracy Forum On The Limits Of Patriotism), pp. 53–60, Boston: Beacon Press.

[4] Glazer, N. (2002). Limits of loyalty. In MC Nussbaum with respondents, J Cohen (ed.), For love of country? (A New Democracy Forum On The Limits Of Patriotism), pp. 61–65, Boston: Beacon Press.

[5] Gutman, A. (2002). Democratic citizenship. In MC Nussbaum with respondents, J Cohen (ed.), For love of country? (A New Democracy Forum On The Limits Of Patriotism), pp. 66–71, Boston: Beacon Press.

[6] Himmelfarb, G. (2002). The illusions of cosmopolitanism. In MC Nussbaum with respondents, J Cohen (ed.), For love of country? (A New Democracy Forum On The Limits Of Patriotism), pp. 72–77, Boston: Beacon Press.

[7] McConnell, MW (2002). Don’t neglect the little platoons. In MC Nussbaum with respondents, J Cohen (ed.), For love of country? (A New Democracy Forum On The Limits Of Patriotism), pp. 78–84, Boston: Beacon Press.

[8] Not even xenophobic.

[9] Butler, J (2002). Universality in culture. In MC Nussbaum with respondents, J Cohen (ed.), For love of country? (A New Democracy Forum On The Limits Of Patriotism), pp. 45–52, Boston: Beacon Press.

[10] Taylor, PJ (1997). Afterword: shifting positions for knowing and intervening in the cultural politics of the life sciences. In PJ Taylor, SE Halforn, and PN Edwards (eds.) Changing life: genomes, ecologies, bodies, and commodities, pp. 203–24. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

[11] García-Barrios R, and García-Barrios L (1990). Environmental and technological degradation in peasant agriculture: a consequence of development in Mexico, World Development 18(11): 1569–85.

[12] In passing, whether it bears necessary emphasis as far as this impinges on Falk’s (2002) discussion, I do not want to elide entirely the pro-hierarchical “attitude” of this kind of moral economy. Many these days, and with just cause, desire to combat hierarchy as implicitly destructive. As such, we may at least not throw out the baby with the bathwater when we understand that hierarchy, as García-Barrios and García-Barrios demonstrate, can at times provide a less environmentally degrading social arrangement than less hierarchical social arrangements.

[13] optessimism: “the speculative fiction writer Stanislaw Lem’s writings are regionally characteristic in their ‘fusing of bright hope with bitter experience, the vision of an open road into the future with the vision of sure dangers and possible defeats inseparable from the risks of openness’ (Suvin 215)*. It is therefore no surprise that he coined the term “optessimist” (found in The Futurological Congress), which is someone who can derive a positive future from a miserable present” (quoted and modified slightly from here).

* Suvin, D (1970). Afterword. In S. Lem, Solaris (trans. Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox), pp. 205-216. New York: Faber, Walker.

[14] The WTO, IMF/World Bank, and the like.

[15] Dragonetti, R (1984). Joufroi, Count of Poitiers and Lord of Cocaigne. In DF Hult (ed.) Concepts of closure (Yale French Studies 67), pp. 95–119. New Haven: Yale University Press


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