Saturday, March 24, 2012

Minogue non Kiley

Kenneth Minogue's 1963 classic The Liberal Mind.  He's particularly good at excavating the assumptions built into Western culture over the last centuries which makes it hard not to be a liberal, even if you think you're a conservative. What we see all around us today, as the air we breathe, he laid out clearly a half century ago. Ideas do indeed have consequences. Enormous and world-changing consequences. My sense of liberalism as a cultural trance or as a spell cast over the mind.
Much of the strength of liberalism as an ideology results from the manner in which it takes over ordinary words and gently inflates them into metaphysical tenets…The logic of this ideological operation can perhaps best be seen if we turn from “desire” (which we assumed to be the key term of liberalism in its earlier development) to its partner, “need.”

Needs-conceptions have, for many people, a vise-like grip which nothing will shake. Each attack on the conception of needs will be met by a baffled reformulation: Surely it is obvious that people do have certain fundamental needs if they are to live. And each reformulation will miss the point. There is no factual issue at stake, but the semantic issue has large philosophical implications.

"Needs" is a language which has grown  out of the liberal movement (and some associated movements) and it has, like all  languages, its particular blind spots, the things which it cannot say. Once inside, no matter how much we thresh about, we shall be hard put to it to escape. A great mistake has been to imagine that an ideology consists of a set of answers to neutral questions; whereas in fact it consists in the questions.
What we take for granted is a mix of nature and culture. Liberalism has taught us how to think and feel and behave, all of us. Reminds me both of the structure and dynamics of character (and character disorder), of culture itself, and of the axis of theological method that Macquarrie used: Fragestellung and Begrifflichkeit…Question Framing and Concept Formation…Which questions you ask and what kind of answers you have at hand.

Liberalism decides both, interlockingly.


Anonymous said...

Right, but it should be that the making conscious of liberalism as "cultural trance" inducing a "liberal movement" undermines that movement. ... Yes, when within an -ism one "shall be hard put to it to escape," but to be aware that obligatory and prohibited thoughts and deeds have been determined not by divine authority or by objective neutral scientific descriptions places one already outside that inside.

Macquarrie employs Heideggerian Question asking and Concept formation. Aristotle achieves rather a similar liberation, doesn't he?, when he proposes that habituation by authoritative nomos determines the gentleman's sense of what is simply binding for him and what simply "not to be done."

... Classical liberalism sought refuge from Rousseau, Hegel, the French Revolution and their aftermath, in an increasing reliance upon value-free, descriptive "science" -- in contrast not only to Aristotelian-Thomistic scientia but also to Baconian-Cartesian science.

But since liberalism remain'd an agenda summarized not in a logos but in mere lists of desiderata as by the U.N. on "human rights," it thus was rolling along on the felt validity of enculturated habit, and was in fact very successful this way under Anglo-Saxony's world power system, since the results of rejecting this agenda (Communism, National Socialism) seem'd so "unpopular" as Kojève would put it.

... Why does the American Congress not debate liquidations of classes undeserving of a future? Because liquidations "simply aren't done" by gentlemen!

Enormities for us are misdeeds such as Nixon's cover-up of the Watergate break-in, and Reagan trading arms for hostages even though he had distinctly said he would never do such a thing.

Anonymous said...

Not that perhaps graver misdeeds were done or condoned by Anglo-Saxony in its heyday. But these misdeeds weren't connected with the official agenda. This oversight is help'd along by our long tradition of wars or military incursions done in order to abolish wars and military aggression, or at least in order to cut down on the quantity of military violence and so on.

But then Anglo-Saxony gave up on its successful jiggery-pokery by which the ostensibly necessary un-liberal deeds were done without disruption of the official agenda (increasing jobs, diminishing poverty, funding public education and the arts by taxing tycoons, etc).

We may marvel that the Anglo-Saxons felt dismay'd by the words of academic critial theorists when we roll'd over Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger. We don't fancy that Locke + Montesquieu as in Jefferson's Declaration can withstand Rousseau and Nietzsche, but the American system went on regardless of Rousseau and Nietzsche. "We aren't solitary promenaders, but we pursue happiness in our own corrupt ways after all. ...

Anonymous said...

Sartre and de Beauvoir want to exist without having to state any essence? Well, let them! Perhaps they would like to do some essence-less existence cutting sugar cane on an agricultural collective in Cuba since capitalist American-zone France is such an nightmare for them they can hardly enjoy their openly post-Freudian sex lives.

Edward Said, a personnel unit employ'd by the caitalism-funded power-elite formatting system call'd "Columbia University,' complains that the West's orientalists haven't described the orient objectively, even while stating that an objective description of the orient or the occident or anything else is not an agendum of his, and can't be, since he is an engaged critical theory personnel unit who dismisses objectivity as a bourgeois fancy.

But the British Empire didn't depend upon a scientifically credible orientalism. Presumably orientalists follow'd the Empire, rather than led it.

More difficult are the claims of our populace-based agitators or let's say speakers who aren't already co-opted as law school professors etc. These speakers speak for more prosperity and equality for particular population groups within Anglo-Saxony are more plausibly something Anglo-Saxony's powers must take seriously, since we would have it that our rule is by consent of the govern'd.

But in fact the Anglo-Saxon system has been well able to deal creatively with such speakers in the past, e.g. William Jennings Bryan.

Anonymous said...

Yet even today within the still-increasing ruins resulting from Anglo-Saxony's hiring critical theorists etc to declare the odiousness and untenability of AngloSaxony's system, only the inherited logos-free liberal agenda "makes sense."

The current 'political' 'campaign' for the November elections in the USA concern only the usual mishmash of job creation, wealth creation, increasing government programmes, honouring our troops while advocating for more peace in the world, and so on. This is unchanged since FDR.

I don't say absolutely that it would be impossible to destroy the Anglosaxony system by "desublimation" of the populations on which it depends and which depend on the Anglosaxony world system. But these populations seem far from ready to follow Dostoevsky's Underground Man who proposes to destroy the system and instead act enthusiastically for ruinous foolishness as a way of sort-of glorious self-expression.

The population seems dismissive not only of Marxist dialectical materialism, but also the mix of Marx on solidarity and Nietzschean genealogy used by desublimators and curiously congruent critical theorists. Lifestyle freedoms plus government funding is the "left" and the "right" is hard-wringing wistfulness for limited government as was possible for a population of 'yeoman farmers' prior to the invention of modern technology. The erotic recklessness of the Underground Man we prefer to confine to the underground below the cave world.

No one minds in the least if this situation expresses Nietzsche's "last man" who would forsake self-transcendence and be utterly content with equalness of all before a value-neutral or dead God. ... »One uses critical theory to rub against the white male, for one needs warmth.«

Thus, liberalism's arbitrary or positive Question asking and Concept formation seems able to withstand all that critical theory crypto-liberalism has been able to throw at it.

Friedan has show'd Anglo-Saxony a way to a sort of Maoism of the educated-class sexes -- men and women as sort-of comrades in workaholic careerism in civilizational structures that have no essence or purpose that might frighten Sartre and Beauvoir. Critical theorists in general have show'd us that our scientific claims aren't scientific, and our foundational narratives and myths are system-serving lies -- "and that's okay" as Stuart Smalley would say.

The power elite still constituted by karma-accepting hetero white guys still gets to be the power elite, so long as the system's critiquers may vilify them as racist misogynists. An entirely bad name though obedient in will-to-power is ameliorated by desublimation by which they are no longer required to live in some sort of accord with residual Christian morals. ...

The genealogy of morals no longer terrifies. For a while there it was even made the theme of a joke. I refer to the controversy whether the president's birth certificate could be determined to be a forgery if only it were made available for study by various talk show hosts.

This from a culture the periodically studies the Zapbruder film of JFK's murder in quest of the shadow of the grassy knoll gunman.

But Anglo-Saxony was tolerated so long by the Underground Man precisely because of our wit, unbroken in a current from Hobbes up to Waugh at least. For example, hiring Howard Zinn or Noam Chomksy to get educated class personnel all riled up and ready for a Slavoj Zizek lecture. ... Every day a new bunch of outrages that world media can deeply imply don't matter, in the sense that the system keeps on trucking. ... "Beetle Bailey Burns Koran" was a headline proposed by Mark Steyn.

Anonymous said...

I should correct that to "Beetle Bailey Accidentally Burns Koran"

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