Thursday, September 13, 2012


Hypocrisy
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday strongly denounced the mysterious anti-Muslim film tied to protests and deadly attacks on American diplomatic compounds. But she reiterated that America will not tolerate limits on its free speech — and challenged leaders in the Muslim world to immediately denounce violence in response.

...“I know it is hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day,” she said. “Now, I would note that in today’s world with today’s technologies that is impossible. But even if it were possible, our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our Constitution and in our law. We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be.”
The right to freedom of speech exists only under a system of rights. We don't support a system of rights in our client states; we actively support the opposite. If our clients had systems of rights they wouldn't be our clients.

In a globalized world the contradictions of power and freedom are made more and more obvious. For liberalism, as such, there's no difference between a Yemeni and an American, but legally they're separate. It's becoming harder for American liberals to ignore that their home state liberalism is predicated on the international political realism of a hegemon.

We're reliving the crises of the 19th century on a larger scale.

Much of modern intellectual life, and all of it that could be called Modernist (the best and worst), has been built by indulging "the intentional fallacy". [Only the phrase is recent, and one gets the sense it was  coined as a way to help the coiners declare themselves both above the fray and exceptions to the rule.]   
Claims of superior self-awareness have been used as a bludgeon; the model is endless oneupmanship. Even the study of history has been used to argue for exceptionalism, either of a state or of the present, of Modernism and “The Modern Project”.  What's amazed me more than anything as I've looked back is how often the empiricism central to art and to all communicative acts has been ignored in service to the desire for some sort of objective “truth”, even artistic or poetic truth, whatever that would mean.

The arts, engaging the language and forms of a society at any given time, are synecdochic for society. Reading Linda Nochlin on 19th Century French Orientalism, on Gerome and other artists of the Paris Salon, it was impossible not to see the parallel to Clem Greenberg’s claims to linguistic transparency and reason. Impressionism is best described as demanding no more than honesty as opposed to the hypocrisy of Salon culture, but the later claims of Modernism defend something closer to what Baudelaire called “philosophic” art, ending in Greenberg’s blank Apollonianism, and beyond that in other equally rationalized assumption of artistic or political value.

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