Interesting quote from Benjamin Boyce (a Camusian formerly at Evergreen State?):
‘Built within this activist rhetoric, built within the very foundations of criticial race theory and white fragility theory is a shifting of blame away from the Self.‘
The Self becomes co-opted into identity cateories and failed theories of History.
White Fragility as lucrative charlatanism.
George Packer on his experience in the New York City Public Schools. We’ve got to have buy-in to the public schools, and bad ideas make buying-in a lot harder to do.
My dead horse:
Many universities, newsrooms and outlets (The NY Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, NPR) are running similar experiments as did Evergreen. Many cities (Seattle, Portland, especially) are doing the same.
Yes, it’s violent in Portland.
The loudest, most commited ideologues co-opt nice-sounding ideals, which often overlap with liberal ideals, capturing the ears of many liberal idealists, but also the political and administrative apparatus of the institutions they inhabit.
In my view, this won’t really get us closer to understanding Nature, nor proper humility and understanding regarding our own natures, nor help maintain legitimate authority.
Humility and self-reflection are hard; sometimes harder for people writing for money.
It can be easy, and hard, to write about one’s Self.
‘There is a tradition of books by intellectuals recounting their fallouts with their former friends. Applebaum, a former deputy editor of this magazine and justly celebrated historian, frames her memoir with two actual parties: one at her restored mansion in Poland on the eve of the millennium, the second at the same house in the summer of 2019. In the years between she has parted ways with many of the guests at the first celebration. All had been elated by the events of 1989 and hopeful about the post-communist future. Twilight of Democracy is her attempt to explain that divergence of ways. Perhaps predictably, she finds other people to be most at fault.’
Let’s check in with Emerson:
“I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the Stern Fact, the Sad Self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from.”
‘When I was a young untenured professor of philosophy, I once received a visit from a colleague from the Comparative Literature Department, an eminent and fashionable literary theorist, who wanted some help from me. I was flattered to be asked, and did my best to oblige, but the drift of his questions about various philosophical topics was strangely perplexing to me. For quite a while we were getting nowhere, until finally he managed to make clear to me what he had come for. He wanted “an epistemology,” he said. An epistemology. Every self-respecting literary theorist had to sport an epistemology that season, it seems, and without one he felt naked, so he had come to me for an epistemology to wear–it was the very next fashion, he was sure, and he wanted the dernier cri in epistemologies. It didn’t matter to him that it be sound, or defensible, or (as one might as well say) true; it just had to be new and different and stylish. Accessorize, my good fellow, or be overlooked at the party’
Out of the postmodern malaise can come nihilism, moral relativism and a general desperation where many can be found clinging to the sciences, or some standard of rationalism and reason that doesn’t seem sufficient in answering all the questions religion claims to answer. Nor does it seem sufficient as a platform to understand human nature, history, tradition, the wisdom in our institutions, and the experience past generations can offer beyond its own presumptions.
Lots of people can thus make ideology their guide and political change their purpose, or the State their religion and their own moral failings or moral programs everyone’s moral oughts through the law and politics.