January 11, 2011

A compromise is a paradox that is paid not to reveal itself to be a paradox.


Sophistical speech appears to be coherent only because it is one-sided, because it is cut off from the whole, and because it obscures its paradoxical relationship to the whole of language. The sophist continues to deliver his plea for a particular position even though he knows there is much to be said at the same time for the opposing position. In endeavouring to lend his utterance coherence and consistency, the sophist employs in his speech only those arguments that strengthen the position he represents, passing over all possible opposing arguments in silence. The sophist thereby replaces the whole of language with the whole of capital. The most important rule of formal logic, which all coherently constructed speech professes to follow, is terium non datur. This terium, however, which is excluded from coherently organized language, becomes money – and, as the obscure core of language, begins to rule over it both externally and internally, transforming it into a commodity. The conflict of positions, each of which represents a distinct, private, one-sided and particular interest in a coherent and consistent manner, leads ultimately to compromise. Compromise is indispensable in such arguments because it alone can bring peace between the conflicting parties, and thus preserve the unity of the whole society. Compromise simultaneously accepts and endorses two opposing assertions. A and not-A, and in consequence its form is actually that of a paradox. But in contrast to the paradox, compromise is formulated in the medium of money, not in the medium of language. In other words, compromise involves financially compensating both the advocates of A and the advocates of not-A for accepting the truth of the opposing position. The sophists, who have argued in favour of both sides, receive financial compensation in just this way. It could be said, therefore, that when paradox is replaced by compromise, power over the whole passes from language to money. A compromise is a paradox that is paid not to reveal itself to be a paradox.

- Boris Groys, The Communist Postscript


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