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Conference: Seminar on Rhetoric and Politics in Contemporary Discourse

Persuasion: Seminar on Rhetoric and Politics in Contemporary Discourse

A seminar organized by the Goldsmiths’ Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy and the Centre for the study of Culture and Politics, University of Swansea

May 5, 2009, 2-5 pm

Small Hall Theater, Richard Hoggart Building

Goldsmiths, University of London

Persuasion is one of the most fundamental of democratic political activities. But it is also one of the most ambiguous. Does democratic development and expansion require the slow substitution of persuasion or rational conviction or, on the contrary, the proliferation of opportunities for rhetorical contestation? Where is the line between persuasion and force? Are there standards of truth or consent that guarantee the democratic character of a persuasive activity? What forms of rhetoric distinguish a democratic polity from tyranny? What happens to political persuasion in an economy and culture dominated by commercial persuasion? How can we best understand and analyse the forms, modes and locations of contemporary political rhetoric as manifested in visual and media cultures?

This interdisciplinary seminar explores the modes of democratic persuasion, the methods for its explication and interpretation and the prospects for rhetoric both in the academy and in the contemporary multifaceted polis.

Speakers: Aleatta Norval (University of Essex), Michael Carrithers (Durham University), Rochana Bajpai (SOAS), Alan Finlayson (Swansea University),  James Martin (Goldsmiths).

The event is free and open to all, but please contact James Martin (j.martin@gold.ac.uk) if you’d like to attend.  Seminar to be followed by a wine reception in the SCR.


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Conference: Seminar on Rhetoric and Politics in Contemporary Discourse

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  1. crossref : “The US is building a mass of hardened bases costing over $1 bn. in Afghanistan… The secretary of defense is predicting that the US military will be in Afghanistan indefinitely and will only achieve limited goals there (!) …why?

    During the Bush/Cheney “neocon” era I would have mused that the purpose of ‘endless war-making’ Over There was this personal agenda by a puny President to popularize himself as a WAR LEADER, as well as a political manifesto espoused by a Vice-President, et al to exercise unfettered WAR POWERS Over Here… iow as their obsessive quest to remake the U.S. Government through extra-ordinary WAR POWERS towards the realization of a Unitary Executive.

    Today the quite popular Mr. Obama has no need for this crutch of Emperor’s Clothing to be beloved, respected or re-elected. Indeed, rather than a Unitary Executive we are witness to new and dangerous precedents not presumed by the Executive, but assumed by the U.S. Congress: Using the perversely named “reconciliation process” to ram legislation through a minority representation deprived the use of “filibuster” opposition tactics; As well we are seeing a Congress attempting to use the extra-ordinary powers of The Treasury to penalize, ex post facto certain citizens and their incorporations in response to the righteous anger of a “neopopulist” mob. As one wit at a recent cocktail party quipped: “If history writes that it was the Right who created Big Brother, then it must also say that it was the Left who used it, righteously so!

    otoh, imho For what it’s worth the truly tragic irony of “endless war-making” in IRAQ and Afghanistan, etc. remains more to do with US, Over Here rather than anything geopolitically significant with THEM, Over There . . .

    Military Keynesianism : The economic effects advanced by supporters of Military Keynesianism can be broken down into four areas, two on the demand side and two on the supply side.

    “On the demand side, increased military demand for [surplus] goods and services is generated directly by government spending. Secondly, this direct spending induces a multiplier effect of general consumer spending. These two effects are directly in line with general Keynesian economic doctrine.”

    “On the supply side, the maintenance of a standing army removes many [surplus] workers from the civilian workforce. In the United States, enlistment is touted as offering direct opportunities for education or skill acquisition. Also on the supply side, it is often argued that military spending on research and development (R&D) increases the productivity of the civilian sector by generating new infrastructure and advanced technology.”

    ( If certain stories of science fiction actually reflect The West’s notions of utopian ideal nations, it is with some unease that we realize in our mythos of Lucas’ Star Wars that everyone is wearing military uniforms, and likewise the “five year mission” of Roddenberry’s Star Trek is an eternal Friedman Unit quest mired in endless reruns : )

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