Monday, June 14, 2010

An Insufferable Fuckwad

FLG read this piece about the Tea Party by a professor at the New School and became astonished at the arrogance, douchebaggery, and generally fuckwadness.

Here's the crucial paragraph:
Tea Party anger is, at bottom, metaphysical, not political: what has been undone by the economic crisis is the belief that each individual is metaphysically self-sufficient, that one’s very standing and being as a rational agent owes nothing to other individuals or institutions. The opposing metaphysical claim, the one I take to be true, is that the very idea of the autonomous subject is an institution, an artifact created by the practices of modern life: the intimate family, the market economy, the liberal state. Each of these social arrangements articulate and express the value and the authority of the individual; they give to the individual a standing she would not have without them.

He then continues:
If stated in enough detail, all these institutions and practices should be seen as together manufacturing, and even inventing, the idea of a sovereign individual who becomes, through them and by virtue of them, the ultimate source of authority. The American version of these practices has, from the earliest days of the republic, made individuality autochthonous while suppressing to the point of disappearance the manifold ways that individuality is beholden to a complex and uniquely modern form of life.

Of course, if you are a libertarian or even a certain kind of liberal, you will object that these practices do not manufacture anything; they simply give individuality its due. The issue here is a central one in modern philosophy: is individual autonomy an irreducible metaphysical given or a social creation?

Ok, so the professor states his point. There is no autonomous individual. It is constructed by insitutions and practices of our liberal democracy. Fine.

He also states the other side, which maintains that the individual is autonomous and does have rights. Consequently, the institutions with this insight in mind.

FLG will leave the actual argument aside just as the author of the piece did, except to say the the Declaration of Independence isn't talking about socially constructed rights and he basically admits as such. But how big a fucking asshole is this guy to state both sides, merely assert your metaphysical claim true, and then call the people who hold the another claim deranged and potentially violent? Is that how professors at the New School contend with disagreement? Simply assert their metaphysical claim as correct and then move forward under the assumption that it is self-evidently clear and anybody who doesn't recognize it is delusional and dangerous? When, according to his own admission, the other metaphysical claim is, well, the more American historically.


George Pal said...

”Is that how professors at the New School contend with disagreement?”

FLG has no doubt come into contact with more professors than I and might know better but I’d have made book that was the MO of most of those in Bernstein’s field.

Alan Howe said...

Not to drift too far from your point, but to say the Declaration of Independence does not discuss socially constructed rights is an error. Granted, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are attributed to a creator, but the long list of grievances are violations of the social contract by George III. And the sum of the argument is that we will create our own contract to establish what natural rights will be protected and what socially constructed rights will be included.

FLG said...


I completely disagree with your characterization. It doesn't talk about socially constructed rights. Sure, there's the dissolution of political bands and various institutions, but there is no mention that these rights are socially constructed.

They emanate from God. End of story.

Anonymous said...

FLG, did you see any of Princess Leia's latest interview - a pattern is emerging :

Is there anyone you haven't met that you've always wanted to?


I'm surprised you haven't met him.

I know. I love him. Hopefully I'll meet him sometime. I'm just happy he exists.

Do you think Tea Party is just people who are pissed that there is an African American president?

Yup, and the fact that they chose to call themselves "teabaggers," which is slang for a certain act involving b***s. It sort of says a lot. I would say a mouthful. Looks like it's very upsetting for them, but he's brilliant. The thing is, he's half white but that's still not enough -- for them it's all white or f**k off. I think we don't deserve him and certainly teabaggers don't deserve him.

Mrs. P

arethusa said...

So if their anger is metaphysical, not political, all their anti-incumbent votes in November are also metaphysical and won't count? Cool.

@Mrs. P: No one deserves Barack Obama. Except maybe the United Nations.

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