Sunday, August 14, 2022

Found on twitter. Shklar to Rawls. So stupid. 

The one issue that does puzzle me is the basic assumption on which you build you[r] edifice: the implicit values of an actual political society. The task you then set yourself is to draw out these intimations and make them explicit. The burden of historical proof then becomes very heavy. You cannot evade the demand for demonstrably accurate historical evidence to show that these are indeed the latent values. How latent? How widely shared? How deeply held and by whom at what times? In peace and In war, in secure and insecure times? Remember that most of your fellow citizens just now think that the Declaration of Independence is too radical for them. And while this is a good time for the First Amendment, It is not always so. One can say that only religion is safe, because no one cares about it that much any longer, and that in a way what is left is all Protestant anyhow. Finally your account of the conflicting beliefs that can overlap may be be out of date. It is not religion and even ideology that now separates us us, but race, language gut-loathing and ethnic incommunicability. Does your model fit that reality, or only one in which tolerance of creedal diversity was in question? My point is simple. If you base you[r] case on history, then contemporary history, which is what the best social science is, must provide you with a far less speculative ground to start from. Those latent values have to be accounted for every bit as much as more overt ones.

The Papers of John Rawls, Box 41, Folder 14. "Shklar, Dita, memorial remarks [1992]". Harvard archives.
Remove yourself from the world in order to think about it, and then you worry about the result.  The refusal to participate in the political world is a political act, and an anti-political act. The letter and its subject are formed out of denial.

Someone once described art history from its beginnings as Jews explaining Catholic theology to Protestants. It's an old quote and I don't remember the source. But now with Shklar, and Moyn, and the rest, the humor and irony are gone. Jewish scholarship, and Jewish liberalism, has become Protestant pedantry.

"contemporary history, which is what the best social science is,..." The history of the past is not a science, so neither is the study of the present. But the spread of the "research model" into everything means now that everything can be—and needs to be—academic. This is how we've ended up with "Auto(erotic)ethnography"—the link's from 2012; it's not the new one. It explains why we have PhDs in creative writing, and J School, and reporters holding back important information to use later in books, betraying their obligation as hacks and ambulance chasers to play at being historians—out of pretension or for money—and why people need the state to validate and justify their fantasies.  Passivity and the need to be guided, the end of agency. The need to the elite to grant permission and the need of the masses to be granted it. Corruption is weakness; weakness breeds corruption. 

This was a good one. 


Moyn, again living down to expectations.

More of the same from Andrew Koppelman
Forced pregnancy is totalitarian. It involves the kind of bodily control that America imposed on slaves before the Civil War. Criminal restrictions don’t do much to lower the abortion rate, but endanger all pregnant women by limiting doctors’ ability to treat them.... 

But I just said all that without so much as mentioning my opponents’ motives or treating religious support for a law as a kind of contaminant that makes otherwise legitimate laws invalid.
Forced pregnancy is totalitarian but I'm not calling you a totalitarian. That would be rude.

If you can't articulate your normative commitments in the language of the community it should play no role it law. 

As I reminded him in an email exchange: politics is a schoolyard before it's a seminar. The schoolyard leads; the seminar follows: Women's Studies programs are the result of feminism not the cause. etc.
Intellectual history is academia as self-justifying narcissism. All repeats.

Adding this, from Moyn at the link above—"expectations"—because people don't click, and  Koppelman's piece really is more of the same.

Koppelman now has a tag. It goes back to 2010.
Ahmari can exist only as parody. You could imagine Moyn referring to his "friend" Dinesh D'Souza.

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