Dalrymple (pseudonym of a former British prison doctor) takes it personally when he sees that:
“…half the page of Le Monde was taken up with a plea for the greatest reform of prison of all: total abolition. It was written by a teacher of philosophy at a lycee, one of the elite state schools of the country; and if it were not for the fact that many young people tend to believe exactly the opposite of what their teacher teaches them, I would have said that he must be a corrupter of youth.”
He takes a shot at the French left, and those trying to stretch theory over all, perhaps not even believing it all themselves (perhaps they do). After all, Dalrymple is British, and a fervent critic of the French and British left. He points out where this theory meets more complex reality, and actual people. Remember, the idea is to abolish prisons:
“There is no recognition whatsoever in the article that the purpose of the criminal law is to protect the population from criminals, not to make criminals better people. Of course, it would be nice if they became better people, as indeed they often do with the passage of time; but criminal justice is not group therapy.”
I think it’s useful to point out that the moral aims of psychology, psychiatry, counseling, etc. will not solve all of our problems (they perhaps are not sciences, and they conflict with the law). But in this case, these fields are being used for political reasons as well, and I think this is Dalrymple’s target:
“There is in the article a moral exhibitionism, which is generosity of spirit at other people’s expense. This, I think, is one of the sicknesses of our age, the desire to appear more-compassionate-than-thou.”
But hasn’t that always been a main goal of the European left; to extend moral concern to the poor, the have-nots, and the workers and non-aristocrats within the framework of certain abstract principles?
So, are we in America importing the worst parts (born of what may be less democratic societies) into our politics right now…?
…any more than we have in the past?
Is modernization theory still going strong?
Addition: Of course, Dalrymple is British, and he’s being discussed here…
And: From Bloggingheads: Tamar Szabo Gendler On Philosophy and Cognitive Science…Repost: Is Psychology A Science? From Richard Feynman’s ‘Cargo Cult Science’…Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People