If one is going to go after sacred cows, one should really go after sacred cows. Most of the people in our society who get credit for "going after sacred cows" are just going after unfashionable ones. At least ones that are unfashionable in the circles they want to appeal to. We live in a world of iconodules posing as iconoclasts.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Holding the Gun and Pulling the Trigger

A response to this worthy post at Classical Values:

1) It is quite often helpful knowing the origin of an action, motivated by the ideas behind it, in order to combat it. Especially when the action often comes in the form of spreading concepts it advocated.

2) Holding X Cultural Marxist (either originator or successor) accountable in debate is not the same as jailing them or even outlawing them or even their ideas. It's part of responding to speech with speech.

3) I'm pretty sure you know both of the above, but your recent post on the subject could be clearer, implying as it does clearing their names. If for example Marx's ideas when put into practice tend to lead to what they have always led to, one can and should point out that there seems to be something wrong with Marxism (to put it mildly), not *just* with their practitioners. Otherwise it tends towards lending credence to the oft-asserted claim that "it wasn't really Marxism" or "that's not what Marx intended" - sure it may not be, but if the story always ends the same way, maybe the author is subject to a critique?

4) If people say "I advocate that X, Y, and Z be done to tear down this capitalist society we dislike," and then they teach people to do X, Y, an Z, and who then teach others, &tc. &tc, that's not just creating an idea, that's putting it into action. Especially if the ideas themselves revolve around marching through cultural institutions in this way. The hands of people like Marcuse aren't clean. To continue the analogy you initiated, if they're holding the gun and pulling the trigger, then it's not the same as sitting in a institute somewhere and imagining how one might bring down a society, then others stumble across your texts through no fault of your own and put the ideas into practice while you're at saying "no, no, I was only describing how one could do it, I wasn't telling you to do it" or at least maintaining a discrete neutrality. The members of the Frankfurt School may all be dead today, but they were the first not only to come up with their ideas, but to put them into practice, since that practice consists precisely in spreading certain attitudes and belief-sets.

5) Thus the best analogy might be akin to "Patient Zero" of AIDS, who kept deliberately spreading it after he was told what it was. Even then it's perhaps an inapt analogy, because at first he spread it unaware of what he was doing. These people knew from the start.

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