Academic journal article Tamara : Journal of Critical Postmodern Organization Science

Time, Timing and Being on Time: The Play of Race and Ideology in the Postmodern Political Organization

Academic journal article Tamara : Journal of Critical Postmodern Organization Science

Time, Timing and Being on Time: The Play of Race and Ideology in the Postmodern Political Organization

Article excerpt


An understanding of the definition and dynamics of time is necessary to the conception of a "postmodern" political organization. Additionally, the nuances of time illustrate the shifting role that race has and continues to play in postmodern politics. This article discusses the relationship between time, race and politics by emphasizing three primary aspects of time: time itself, as the condition for political action; timing, which expresses a particularly strategic process of political action; and being on time, which signifies the fulfillment of political strategy. This understanding of the contours of time is illustrated by the dynamics of "black politics" in the American political system, and among Democratic and Republican party organizations.


Prior to our discussion of the role that race and ideology play in the postmodern political organization, we must of necessity consider the centrality of time to our endeavor. The metaphysics and experience of time is that which links all of the issues discussed in the following pages and without an understanding of its origins, the variety of its uses in the English language and the mode of being manifest in such usage one cannot fully understand the complexity and dynamism of race and ideology as it is expressed in the uniquely American way of doing politics. Thus time is both the beginning and end of our explorations in this regard, especially the way that "time," "timing" and the concept of being "on time" are related to each other, to race and ideology and to politics and the formation/sustenance of political organizations.

While there may be only one metaphysical "objective" time as concept, there are, as Gebser takes great pains to help us understand, varied ways of "living" time. "Time," in the Indo-Germanic language, refers to a distinctively rational way of living and conceptualizing time. Here we find in the kindred Greek use of the word "da", meaning "to divide, to take apart, to lay apart, to tear apart, to lacerate" (Gebser, 173). As Gebser notes, what is divided with the onset of rational time is the awareness of "day" and "light" as opposed to the darkness of magical temporicity. The concept of division inherent in the word time foregrounded daylight and draws attention to a related characterization of rational time - direction and directedness. Thus, the dawning of separation between night and day in the flow of experience embeds a spatial metaphysic in the mental rational temporal world. It is only in the light of day that one can know where one is going and, consequently, when one is going. Such an illumination affords the rational with the foresight necessary to plan, prepare and order ones steps, thus providing a comfortable amount of certainty for one's movement and action.

From the root of time we have thus far plotted the related concepts of division, spatiality, order, planning and direction. These lead us to another use of the word time - timing. Timing has use as both noun and verb, as does its sister term, synchronie. By combining the Greek prefix "syn" to chronos we get the derivation of synchronous meaning "together in time". As a noun, it is an act of simultaneity, something at the same time. It also signifies agreement or coincidence. The meaning of the word changes quite drastically when we ad the suffix "ize," meaning "to cause to be, conform to, or resemble," from the original Greek meaning of "ize" as "origin," and it is linked to concepts of fashioning or making. In verbalizing synchronicity then we have not just a "coincidental" occurrence or chance happening. With synchronization or timing we incorporate concepts of manipulation, direction and purpose. Synchronizing is technological. Something is fashioned with the express purpose of accomplishing a task in this case, of causing the simultaneous occurrence of things or making things (thoughts, actions, public opinion, etc. …

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