22.11.16

RECLAIMING THE GOOD OF THE INTELLECT.

Margaret "University Diaries" stands up for Richard Rorty as opposed to Slavoj Zizek.  "Rorty looked with dread upon the emergence of a “cosmopolitan upper class which has no …sense of community with any workers anywhere,” but lives instead in an exceedingly pleasant, totally insulated, white-noisy bubble." Plus an instructive passage from Mr Rorty's Achieving Our Country on the emptiness of theories (or Theory, as the Critical Studies types would have it) devoid of testable implications.
Recent attempt to subvert social institutions by problematizing concepts have produced a few very good books. They have also produced many thousands of books which represent scholastic philosophizing at its worst. The authors of these purportedly ‘subversive’ books honestly believe that they are serving human liberty. But it is almost impossible to clamber back down from their books to a level of abstraction on which one might discuss the merits of a law, a treaty, a candidate, or a political strategy. Even though what these authors ‘theorize’ is often something very concrete and near at hand – a current TV show, a media celebrity, a recent scandal – they offer the most abstract and barren explanations imaginable.
Well, that subversiveness corroded the mediating institutions, and converted bourgeois concepts such as integrity and morality into constructs reeking of privilege.  Perhaps Mr Rorty is correct, the failings of the intellectual elite, and the epistemically closed bubbles into which their political brain-brothers retreated, and the people who had to live next door to the splintery, trashy culture that everybody else got stuck with sought a strongman.  But politics is downstream from culture, and the deconstruction of the established ways of doing things made much of the opposition to Mr Trump's outrageous behavior as a campaigner simply a matter of preference, rather than insistence on a principle.

The Republic is likely to survive a Trump presidency, which cannot last more than eight years.  Reclaiming the conventions and the mediating institutions?  That will take more time.

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