Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Henry Farrell has no fucking idea what social democracy is. It's a situation before it's an idea. Farrell's preference for ideas gets it precisely backwards.

An absence of imagination is as dangerous to productive engagement as an excess. Ideologists of technocracy are masters of iron-clad rules and definitions: what doesn't fit does not exist. It's the intellectualism not of observation but of invention. Fucking idiots.
What's the significance of this?

Late yesterday afternoon I was trudging through midtown manhattan in a sweatshirt and black work-coat, mumbling to myself under my headphones, scaring passersby; raging against the world. Half an hour later having been dragged by an old acquaintance I'd just yelled at, I was sitting in the back room of a international art brokerage –in a Frank Gehry Hockey chair -"Hat Trick" (armless)– sipping a glass of single malt scotch handed me by the former director of a major American museum, debating the marketing of the archive of an important figure in the history of conceptual art. There were three of us in the room. Our host was strumming a guitar.

When repackaging old ephemera for sale and display, do you update –are you updating– the things themselves? Should they now read "1970/2009"? Does that make them more or less valuable? How do you create a market where none existed? How best create desire? Desire for what? The client is balking; is he right? The client can afford a small third world country and you need to pay the rent. How is the art best served? How the artist?

I'm going to end my life in one of two places: a townhouse or an SRO.
This is insanity.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is "social democracy"? I have no fucking idea either.

I don't think it's a situation; seems to me it's a sort of rhetorical pattern for presenting and marketing situations. On of those rhetorical tricks like "freedom", "markets", "tyranny".

D. Ghirlandaio said...

Abb, you're a pain.
Social democracy is "social" liberalism rather than individualist liberalism, founded in the tendency to see things divided between US and THEM rather than to I and OTHERS. It explains the French tendency to see themselves as French and American's tendency to see themselves each as some sort of free-floating and distinct, idiosyncratic, one. But judgment requires comparison. 25 klub-kids each proud of their own manic eccentricity form an indistinct mass. 25 men in suits and ties, or lederhosen, or salwar kameez provide a series of templates for contrast and comparison. You can't be articulate in a language you've made up yourself and of which you're the only speaker. You end up talking to yourself about what you already know- which isn't much.

As I've said before Abb, you think you're an individual all I hear are a series of tropes. The same is true for Henry Farrell.

Anonymous said...

Hey, why the hostility? I am open to be convinced and to switch to your tropes.

The problem with "social democracy" (as with "freedom" or "markets") is that it's too ambiguous, everyone has their own idea of what it is.

To me, for example, it's an attempt to save capitalism from itself.

To you it's something that I would call "communitarianism".

But of course the word "liberalism" in your definition above makes it an oxymoron. There is no other meaning of "liberalism" than individualism.

D. Ghirlandaio said...

"To me, for example, it's an attempt to save capitalism from itself."
Again, your think social democracy is an invention rather than a description of a social fact. The naming of the thing came after.
The social democratic tendency is visible in those who while engaged in market activity have other other modes of social interaction that act against the market. Family, church, community etc. "Janteloven." It's a residual pre-capitalist conservatism. And there's a silent almost unthought acknowledgment that the technocratic machinery measures us by our lowest common denominator and that that is not something to be celebrated. The fact that people are intellectually lazy and are prey to shallow self-interest may be a moral failing, but that matters less than the fact that we can identify and compensate for it, and that marks are as agents with free will, in control of our destiny. We truly live in the best of all possible worlds.

The broken circle of illogic is just bizarre. But it's the logic of american liberal political intellectuals and the logic of the academy.
Are any of these idiots aware that the unity of the sciences and humanities was a hallmark of the Middle Ages? Are you? Do you have any idea how backwards these fuckers are? How backwards you are?

Communitarianism: It's is an idea invented by individualists who want to do things together. It's artificial. It's designed.
Have you ever lived in the US? It's much different than Europe. The lack of sociality is palpable. To me it's almost painful. A nation populated by little Kaspar Hausers But immigrants are welcome here. We need more fresh meat for the machine. But the immigrants now get the joke. And that's a new development, of the past 25 or 30 years.
That's interesting.

Anonymous said...

Any 'ism' describes an idea.

If you want to describe situations and social facts, and you seriously resist the temptation to be analytical about them, then you have to use only concepts like "France", and "the US" instead of all the "isms".

Because nothing describes France as a situation, as a social fact better than the word "France". As a fact, France is France. You could have variants like "France without Paris" and "Paris", if you want to be more specific.

Now, social democracy is an abstract idea, and it can only be discussed as such.

As a compromise, we could agree, for example, that France (due to its situation, the facts on the ground) is more suitable for Social Democracy than the US.

A situation (France) meets an abstract idea (Social Democracy) and - voila! - now we have something to talk about, rather than just stating the facts and definitions.

D. Ghirlandaio said...

"and you seriously resist the temptation to be analytical about them"

Divided between idiots who argue with me and those who refuse to.
I begin with facts and their analysis. Ideas are built from description. Prescription beyond certain basic preferences doesn't interest me.

"France (due to its situation, the facts on the ground) is more suitable for Social Democracy than the US."

My interest is in describing situations and tendencies in detail. GE Cohen writes about Marx's theory of history, but Marx's theory of history is inseparable from the fact that he was able and willing of recite long passages of Shakespeare from memory. It is inseparable from the fact that he was a great writer and a great 19th century write, I do not separate the history of ideas from the history of sense. Does Cohen know what it means to try to write as more than an aspect of functionalism? Does Rawls? Does Henry Farell? You?
No.
I read fiction as philosophy and philosophy as fiction, because what they both represent more than anything is the time in which they were made.
Rawls is representative of the intellectual climate of the third quarter of the 20th century in anglo-american academic culture. That's a pretty limited sphere of relevance. Cohen's is even smaller.
Marx is representative of something much greater,
as are Shakespeare Michelangelo and maybe Proust.

My interest in ideas is subsidiary to my interest in the world, though they are inseparable. Observation precedes reason. Reason unbound is hot air but much more dangerous.

I'm does with this shit. I'm sick of reliving debates from my childhood.

Anonymous said...

I think you're definitely right about me, at least, being shallow and all that. Probably most of the other people you mention as well. Marx and Shakespeare are extremely rare.

I certainly don't pretend to be anything but shallow; that's what blogs are all about. If you don't like the medium/genre, it might be better to avoid it altogether, rather than to keep getting annoyed.

Anonymous said...

Cone to think of it, when it comes to pamphletizing Marx sounds pretty shallow too. Abstract ideas, not grounded in reality.