Sunday, June 06, 2010

All repeats. The third is a repeat of an entire post from April; no need for a link. Ignore it all if you're been here before.

The point is not to attack technocrats as such, but to make clear that technocracy sees the instance as subsidiary to the general, and that transposed as academic idealism the idea or aggregate becomes not only the primary object of practical concern but a primary moral value in itself, reversing the older logic of the humanities. It also makes certain policy positions seem not only appropriate but justified on grounds of liberalism. And it's where left and old right rebel against utilitarianism and the idea of the individual in defense of actual individual experience.


Chris Bertram
The right frame, in my view, is to think of the state as “we, the people” and to ask what conditions need to be in place for the people, and for each citizen, to play their role in effective self-government. Once you look at things like that then various speech restrictions naturally suggest themselves.
The state is not the people. [Both my parents helped write policy for the ACLU of Pennsylvania.]


It's boring at this point but I'll say this again, since it remains an object lesson in failure: John Holbo cannot talk about the political situation in Singapore -where he lives and teaches- without threatening his career, which is why Henry Farrell and not Holbo himself responded to my comments a couple of years ago, replying that academic philosophy doesn't concern itself with real politics. That wasn't Farrell's term but that was the argument.
In The Liberal Imagination, Lionel Trilling approves the text of J. S. Mill’s “prayer of every true partisan of liberalism”: “Lord, enlighten thou our enemies . . . sharpen their wits, give acuteness to their perceptions and consecutiveness and clearness to their reasoning powers. We are in danger from their folly, not from their wisdom: their weakness is what fills us with apprehension, not their strength.”
Being such a partisan, having now said my prayer, I consider possible beneficiaries. I pluck from the crowd one Slavoj Zizek, anti-liberal intellectual.
Zizek was a dissident in Tito's Yugoslavia. My parents risked prison time in the US, in defense of their beliefs. When Holbo's not attacking Zizek and Jonah Goldberg he writes about comic books and fonts.

Holbo defends non-contradictory propositions contradicted by his actions. He refuses to deal in contexts because the result would be damning, showing his "revealed preference". He claims to live an examined life, but he's a liar and a hypocrite, fundamentally corrupt not because he's a realist but because his life and career are predicated on proffering the illusion that he isn't.


Again continuing from a recent post, on the socialism of schoolmen and the authoritarianism of technocrats. [not new but relevant]

G.A Cohen, with comments by Harry Brighouse
It does seem to me that all people of goodwill would welcome the news that it had become possible to proceed otherwise [i.e. in ways that tapped into our nobler, rather than our more selfish, motives] perhaps, for example, because some economists had invented clever ways of harnessing and organizing our capacity for generosity toward others.

The problem, for Cohen, is that we lack such technology. We should not pretend that we have such a technology, but nor should we pretend that the search for it is futile, or that the lack of it means that the organizing principles of our own society are more appealing than they, in fact, are.
So if the master is the machine itself rather than others like ourselves…

As I said elsewhere in a longer discussion if the same points: "Cohen was raised a Stalinist and died a maudlin sentimentalist."
It's not that liberalism is perverse, it's necessary. Liberal idealism is perverse.
Read the post at the last link. It's a good one.

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