Saturday, November 11, 2006

record keeping
posted elsewhere.
Jodi Dean, the college professor as intellectual self-pitying Goth. But wait, isn’t being like, Goth, with all that moping and makeup, just another form of the liberal individualism that I’m like so disgusted by? So I’m disgusted by myself! But you should be disgusted by yourselves too! Why aren’t you disgusted by yourselves!

But no dear, they’re not. They read science fiction and hang out with political scientists. Methodological individualism is, like, their thing. So what you gonna do?
Me? Well Zizek will be back in town in a week or so, staying in my friend’s basement again. The three of us are going to go out and get drunk. My friend will pay. He’s a millionaire, makes shitloads selling Picassos to Beijing. He thinks Zizek and me would get along swell. “You’re both ex communists!”  
I’ve never read him but I saw him on Slovenian TV once.

When Europeans talk about Liberalism, they’re referring to the state of being of the modern bourgeoisie.
“Achh! you’re so bourgeois!” they say.
That’s the basis of every European conversation.
“Good morning”
“Achh! you’re so bourgeois!”
“Achh! you’re so bourgeois too!”
In America at least in big cities when we pretend to like foreigners we talk about being Liberal instead of being bourgeois, because to attack liberalism seems to imply conservatism, or worse! That puts people in the position of arguing that Gramma’s manicotti is really not as good as the frozen kind because Gramma was a peasant who went to Church three times an hour while waiting for the Second Coming, and frozen manicotti is the wave of the future and besides, it feeds the masses, but anyway you don’t eat frozen manicotti because you go to La Maison de la Casa House or some other such for manicotti that is better than Gramma’s and that only cost $40 so why not? This is modern American liberalism.
“Achh! We must defend the collective!”
“My defense of the collective is better than yours!”

And so your hero is the author of ‘The Selfish Gene” who argues that if the world were populated by atheists Donald Rumsfeld would never have been so stupid. But wait, does Donald Rumsfeld even go to church? What’s the cure for the man who has faith in himself?
“Achh!! What’s the test for self awareness!?”

“Mature arguments in defense of Social Democracy or any other form of social organization come from the depths of that community and are spoken in its language. That language is proprietary to its people. It is not the language of dreamers and odd men out, or of social scientists and technocrats. Their languages are proprietary to them alone.
Social Democracy is not an invention, it is a fact of social behavior that was first seen in its latency, then described, and finally defended. Invention is the dream of Randians, Chicago School Liberals and vulgar Marxists. The Scandinavian “model” is no more of an invention than Swedish.”
“And Esperanto was a failure.”

In all the world Americans are the one group you can count on never to say in response to some absurdity or another
“Achhh! That’s so like us!”
I’ve spent the last months listening to people plan ways to direct the electorate and the country, and after tuesday trying to divvy up the credit and the blame.
The people who succeeded on Tuesday did so not because they were inventive but because they were observant.
If liberalism is the liberalism of Dawkins and the Chicago boys, and the liberalism of those who never look at themselves in the mirror (or those who never look at anything else)
than it has nothing at all to do with the liberal arts, and everything to do with what they oppose.

The election on tuesday was a small victory for Social Democracy because it marked a victory of the logic of convention over the logic of desire. Middle America has changed enough to accept things it hadn’t in the past. The Avant Garde really isn’t needed any more; so what does it do? What has it done for a while? It’s gone off to defend itself, technocracy and the elite.
Zizek and me? Well, we’re just trying, rather awkwardly I must admit, to join the party (small “p")

"I’m not a liberal myself."
So lets try to define liberalism.
Is it the liberalism that refers to the world as something knowable through reason alone, and that sees knowledge as cumulative and science of one sort of another as the measure? Or is it the liberalism of the rule of law, which is based on the assumption of limitations and flaws in human awareness. A lawyer in a courtroom is under an obligation not to be objective but to be partial, so that he may be able to play his role in the rigorously formal structure known as the justice system. A lawyer, under penalty of law, may not partake of the neutrality of an objective seeker of truth.

The Constitution like the Bible is a text. Basing a system of government on a foundational document seems a rather sloppy way to run a railroad, especially since we all know where we want to go. But the founder and for years the one man band of the Philadelphia ACLU always referred to the ACLU as "a conservative organization."

"The Liberal Arts" begin as the intellectual and historical study of various modes of craft-making, examples of which are seen as paradigmatic of certain modes of thought. Intellectuals study objects often made without intellectual intent, but which are acknowledged well after the fact to be flush with intellectual complexity, an intellectual complexity often seen as outshining the works of the intellectuals themselves. Liberals of a certain sort ask: "How can this be!?"

The rule of science opposes not only the rule of religion, but the rule of law, yet scientific doublespeak runs rampant. The notion, the dream, of objectivity makes as much sense as an ideal for journalism as it does for a courtroom, but somehow it's accepted. "Meme" is a weasel-word but somehow has become common usage, while the phrase "mistakes were made" still comes in for abuse. Why the different reaction? Because "ideas happen" hides behind scientific rhetoric.

Philosophers want to "know," and they despise systems that allow them only to participate. A lawyer may not be a philosopher in the courtroom any more than an actor may be one on the stage. Those conversations begin after the workday is done.

All of you are liberals of one of these two sorts. Pick one.

Liberals' concern with positive rights means that they defend the institutionalization of Pity as the equivalent of the institutionalization of Concern, and this even though concern as a function of the social can not be institutionalized.

But the doctrine of the primacy of ideas declares that if the mechanics are identical the results must be, so there's no difference between repression and "condemning judgment," and the words: "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother" have the same meaning whether said with a calm reserve or plaintive whine. Generalization and bureaucracy trump specificity, whereas art does the reverse. [The Europeans, being so innately social fetishize the reverse. There's a fun theme!]

The European left has always understood the arguments of the anti-bourgeois right. It's the bourgeois right that comes in for contempt. We haven't been so lucky, the bourgeoisie are all we have. We have no counterforce.
The primacy of ideas is the primacy of those who have them, while the possibility of the primacy of systems is looked on by American 'progressives' with horror, since it stands opposed to the freedom of the individual. But culture is more Burkean than liberal. The arts have always been conservative: they 'conserve.'

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