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Tea Party Metaphysics and Other Terrifying Spectres

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Intersubjective!

You may have heard the news that House Democrats are skipping the whole actually-listen-to-your-consitutents-in-person thing this summer. You may have even blamed them for being gutless. If so, that's probably because you haven't been reading enough Hegel. Here's J.M. Bernstein, setting you straight in The New York Times:

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. […]

The issue here is a central one in modern philosophy: is individual autonomy an irreducible metaphysical given or a social creation? Descartes famously argued that self or subject, the "I think," was metaphysically basic, while Hegel argued that we only become self-determining agents through being recognized as such by others who we recognize in turn. It is by recognizing one another as autonomous subjects through the institutions of family, civil society and the state that we become such subjects; those practices are how we recognize and so bestow on one another the title and powers of being free individuals.

All the heavy lifting in Hegel's account turns on revealing how human subjectivity only emerges through intersubjective relations, and hence how practices of independence, of freedom and autonomy, are held in place and made possible by complementary structures of dependence.

Yeah, or maybe the economy still sucks, the fiscal future looks horrifying, and this president has turned out to be as divisive as the last?

Bernstein closes with some metaphysical terror of his own:

Terrifying!

In truth, there is nothing that the Tea Party movement wants; terrifyingly, it wants nothing. Lilla calls the Tea Party "Jacobins"; I would urge that they are nihilists. To date, the Tea Party has committed only the minor, almost atmospheric violences of propagating falsehoods, calumny and the disruption of the occasions for political speech — the last already to great and distorting effect. But if their nihilistic rage is deprived of interrupting political meetings as an outlet, where might it now go? With such rage driving the Tea Party, might we anticipate this atmospheric violence becoming actual violence, becoming what Hegel called, referring to the original Jacobins' fantasy of total freedom, "a fury of destruction"? There is indeed something not just disturbing, but frightening, in the anger of the Tea Party.

A quick note: If "propagating falsehoods" and "calumny" are the new "atmospheric violence," then we need focus our anticipatory dread no further than the Oval Office. Also, the notion that Tea Partiers inflicted widespread violence at townhall meetings last summer is a media myth, one anticipated by Managing Editor Jesse Walker's classic piece, "The Paranoid Center."

Link via the Twitter feed of Stanford Philosophy Professor Joshua Cohen, who calls the Bernstein essay "Armchair bullshit, masquerading as philosophy."

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122 responses to “Tea Party Metaphysics and Other Terrifying Spectres

  1. Every time Ive ever been called a nihilist, Ive considered that a concession that I won.

    I recommend the tea partiers do the same.

    Oh, and Fuck Hegelians.

    1. So what everyone is supposed to accept your arbitrary metaphysical conceits (such as, we are by nature autonomous), because that way you can be right about everything?

      1. No, we should ignore anybody appealing to Hegel because his view of the individual is immediately and obviously false.

        Imagine a man who awakes alone on an uninhabited island with no memory of where he came from or how he got there, ie pried free of all society. Is he not still obviously still a self-determining agent? Is he not only reduced to less of an individual when he finds other, and then is not only the atomic self, but part of the group? Does Hegel once again not know a hat from his own ass?

        The one good thing about Hegel is that he frequently does us the favor of being easily demonstrated false by counterexample.

        1. Rand pretty much demolished the entire “the individual self is a creation of questions asked by society” by asking:

          How did all of these questions ever even occur to individuals not capable of independent selfhood?

          1. It also becomes just an excuse to follow the herd. Heigal became Heidegger and all of this became “being”. And being had a flow that people could get in touch with. And when a whole nation got in touch with the flow, really groovy things started to happen.

            The whole thing quickly morphs into a ready made excuse to join national movements and to no dissent. Who doesn’t want to get caught up in the “seep of history”? What could go wrong?

            1. > Heigal became Heidegger and all of this became “being”.
              > Who doesn’t want to get caught up in the “seep of history”? What could go wrong?

              Orthography, for starters.

        2. That very few people are born alone on uninhabited islands isn’t relevant to you?

          You would have access to exactly none of your autonomy or specific liberties if not for the work society has done to make them real. Pick a moment in history at random to be born, and it’s vastly more likely you’d end up someone’s serf than alone on an island.

          1. Tony,

            You confuse civil society and government. There is an entire civil society that exists without government. You seem to have this strange idea that people cannot band together and form voluntary associations to protect each other and ensure freedom.

            You also seem to have no understanding that the government can ever do any harm. It is funny you mention “living as a serf”. Who enforced serfdom and slavery? The government dipshit. And indeed, if you were to list all of the most unfree places on earth today, all of them would be unfree because of the actions of their government. Worse still, they would be unfree because of governments committed to the very ideals and Utopian dreams you value.

            1. band together and form voluntary associations to protect each other and ensure freedom.

              That’s exactly what government is supposed to be. How else are large groups of people supposed to interact in a way that serves fairness, justice, and individual liberty?

              Government is a bogeyman to you–by definition the oppressor of oppressors. I see a place for good government. And I better be right because anarcho-topia isn’t a fun place to live, ask anyone who’s been there.

              1. I see a place for good government to Tony. You are arguing with a straw man. The problem is that you can’t get from “there is a place for good government” to “government exists to solve every problem”. And that is where you fail.

                1. “government exists to solve every problem”

                  Okay so we’re both making a straw man argument.

                  1. Fair enough Tony. You can’t get from “there is a place for good government” to “we need a government that takes 20% or more of our GDP to operate”.

          2. That very few people are born alone on uninhabited islands isn’t relevant to you?

            Yes, it isn’t. It doesn’t matter how many people are on uninhabitted islands – if Hegel is right, then the man on the island would not be an autonomous individual, no matter how many men on islands there are. The argument you’re making is the same as that fish are in water almost all the time, so if you take a fish out of water, it ceases to be a fish. To address the question of whether the autonomous individual only exists in the context of society, the relevant case to consider is what happens to an autonomous individual removed from that context.

            You would have access to exactly none of your autonomy or specific liberties if not for the work society has done to make them real. Pick a moment in history at random to be born, and it’s vastly more likely you’d end up someone’s serf than alone on an island.

            I’m pretty sure serfdom is a social arrangement. The fact that society at one point had less respect for the individual doesn’t mean that the individual only arises from society. Hence, it’s irrelevant to the question of whether the autonomous individual exists without society. That would be an argument against the idea that society exist to serve the individual, but both my position (society is constructed by the diminishment of the autonomous individual by reduction of the individual to his group mememberships) and Hegel’s (the autonomous individual is a construct present only in modern liberal societies) reject that idea anyway, so it’s irrelevant here.

          3. Ummmm………How can you be “born alone?”

          4. Tony,

            You completely fail to understand the issue.

            Hegel [and many of his intellectual descendants] literally believed that the individual was a creation of the social context.

            Not just that governments protect liberties, or that other people are involved in the economies where we get our food, or any of that nice stuff.

            They literally believed that without a society of people continually prompting us for feedback [“How do you feel?” “What are you doing?” “Do you want another sandwich?”] and/or providing us with roles [“Stand over here and hold this rifle!” “Wear these funny clothes and say sermons!”] the individual consciousness would not exist.

            And this POV has fairly obvious chicken and egg problems that even you should see.

            In addition, this is really a bit silly:

            You would have access to exactly none of your autonomy or specific liberties if not for the work society has done to make them real.

            With enough information, I could easily demonstrate that “society” has never done anything to enhance my autonomy or my liberties. All of the actions you are ascribing to “society” were undertaken by discrete individuals.

            “Society” did not undertake the American Revolution, for example. That was undertaken by a set of individual men who made individual decisions to act in coordination with one another. Some people didn’t make the same decision; some people fought against them. Each of those men had a name, and with enough work and with access to sufficient information we could figure out all of those names and exactly what they did. It would be a giant pain in the ass to do so, and in many cases the information involved has been lost and cannot be retrieved, but that doesn’t matter in the end: it was still the work of individual men.

            1. But to Tony and his ilk, society just means anyone and everyone except whomever has been chosen to be the fuckee of the moment

            2. Meh. And the criminal justice system, national defense, education, and everything else that makes your liberty possible are all composed of men and women working individually. I see a distinction without a difference.

              Take the man on an island. He will have no language–he will be essentially an ape with exceptional tool-making skills (assuming he can figure that out on his own). But stepping even further back, he wouldn’t exist at all, because everyone requires parents for at least a few years after birth. In a very real way, society in some form is necessary for individuals to exist at all, let alone possess liberty and autonomy in a mature state. The founding fathers didn’t emerge from the ether, either. They were built not only by their societies but by centuries of history in their societies.

              I’m not gonna get into Hegel because it literally takes books to discuss his take on freedom, with no pat answers, and I don’t really care since I’m a materialist.

              1. What he said:
                “Imagine a man who awakes alone on an uninhabited island with no memory of where he came from or how he got there, ie pried free of all society.”

                What you said:
                “That very few people are born alone on uninhabited islands isn’t relevant to you?”

                What? Is anyone else paying attention here? Awakening alone with amnesia does not equal being born alone.

      2. because it is am empirical fact that we are individuals. How many fingers am I holding up right now? What, you don’t know? I guess we must be separate people. Descartes was right. Hegel was wrong. Damn, I miss the Enlightenment.

        1. No, it’s not an empirical fact, but a tautology. You’re an individual based on your definition of an individual.

          1. “Love is just a word, what matters is the feeling -”

            “Yeah, I know, that’s why I asked if you feel… nevermind…”

          2. I am metaphysically sticking my two fingers up your ass. Can you feel it? Does that fact that you cannot suggest a reasonably workable definition of an individual that we can all agree on without grasping at straws?

  2. I think Bertsien’s piece is brilliant, especially the part about the contradictory beliefs these morons have. Sorry to raise the moron question. Nothing personal.

  3. But if their nihilistic rage is deprived of interrupting political meetings as an outlet, where might it now go?

    I assumed tea partiers were the ones sending all the hate mail and death threats to the rabbi who outed Helen Thomas.

  4. David Hume could outconsume
    Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel

  5. Say what you want about the tenets of Teaparty-ism. At least it’s an ethos.

    1. Forget it, Citizen, you’re out of your element!

  6. I actually read some of this, earlier. I got as far as the insinuation of racism.

    What other explanation could there be?

  7. This dumb cunt is unable to conceive of the possibility of any value outside of the state.

    That is why, to him, anyone who disapproves of the state and wants to see it become smaller is a nihilist.

    A nihilist is someone who discards all values and no longer believes in the possibility of values. That is what this asshole sees when he sees someone who wants a smaller state than him. Fuck him. Fuck him right up the ass. Why can’t a safe fall on this fucker’s head TODAY? I’d value THAT, so I guess I’m not a nihilist.

    1. Yeah, the Tea Partiers want the state to become smaller, except the part that gives them stuff. Keep the government out of Medicare. The Tea Partiers are stupid. But then so are you, Fluffy.

      1. Be gone troll.

        1. Wow. How did you do that?

  8. The Tea Partiers are nihilists, Dude?

    1. Say what you like about the tenets of Statist Progressivism, at least it’s an ethos.

    2. Ve takes your moneys, then ve fucks you up ze ass!

    3. We believe in nothing, Lebowski. Nothing. And tomorrow we come back and we cut off your chonson.

    4. Donny: Are these the Nazis, Walter?

      Walter Sobchak: No, Donny, these men are nihilists. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

  9. Meanwhile, over at Time, Mark Helperin has made a shocking discovery:

    The view of many of the nation’s best-compensated executives is that Obama knows little or nothing about the importance of the free market or how it works.

    hier

    1. Mein Gott!

  10. Oops- velly solly; misspelled “Halperin”.

  11. This is not the summer to shout at town hall meetings. This is the summer that tea partiers develop the tactics that will, in November, drive the current crop of corrupt and statist politicians out of office (to make way, in too many cases, for the next crop to be corrupted and dispense new gifts from the Santa bag.) On balance, I guess the best we can hope for is the ship of state to start steering a little more toward individual liberty and personal responsibility.

  12. It is true that the Teabaggers seem to have no real coherant agenda…they’re just kind of blindly angry, although not angry enough to actually do much of anything.

    Racism is one element, to be sure, but not the only one. The Tea Party movement is kind of the death throes of Reagan-era conservatism.

    1. You really do live in a fantasy world Dan. The entire world is going broke. Every country that has tried third way European socialism is facing bankruptcy. Yet, you think that we are in the “death throes are Reagan-era conservatism”. I guess math isn’t one of your strong points. We are seeing the death throes of something alright. But it is not what you think it is.

      1. The recession was not caused by welfare spending. It was caused by a bubble collapse, a quintessential market failure.

        1. Even if we didn’t have a recession, we could not afford our welfare state. And the US is in better shape in this regard than Europe. The recession is not what is causing the bankruptcies. Socialism is what is causing the bankruptcies.

          Further, what do you think caused those bubbles? Governments printing money and providing subsidies to people to even out the playing field. Why is there a real estate bubble? Because government gave everyone free money in the form of artificially cheap interest rates and federally subsidized loans to buy homes. When you subsidize something, you are going to artificially raise the demand and thus the price. And if you subsidize it a lot, you will get a bubble. Yes, the market creates the bubble. But it is doing so in a perfectly predictable response to government actions. Socialism is dead. Right now, it is just putting off the repo man.

          1. No, John, free market fairy tales are dead. You just don’t realize it because you are invested in a false history meant to rationalize your preconceived beliefs.

            Government subsidizing of home loans, while a convenient scapegoat for those looking to escape blame, was not a primary cause of the housing bubble. Too-easy access to home loans did play a large role, but it wasn’t government for the most part insisting on that ease of access, it was the financial industry making money on mortgage-backed securities and pretending that shit loans could be made profitable if they are just repackaged and bet on.

            1. And financial community did that because? They got artificially cheap loans from the feds and many of the loans were guaranteed by Fannie and Freddy. And people were willing to borrow so much money because? The only tax break available to most Americans is the home mortgage deduction. All of that is government Tony.

              Regardless Tony, the housing bubble is not what caused Greece and shortly Spain, Ireland, and the UK and California and New York to go broke. Socialism and unbelievable government spending did. Every country that does socialism goes broke.

              In 20 years everything you believe in will be over. Every country that followed the policies you believe in will have gone bankrupt and reorganized. You and your kind are the Archie Bunkers of the 21st Century. It is all ending.

              1. The minute financial industry CEOs came groveling to the government to bail their companies out was the day your worldview ended. Everyone involved in the events, from Alan Greenspan on down, quickly set aside their free market fundamentalism as inherently flawed, given that this paradigm had led (inevitably, in the eyes of the few economists paying attention) to a historically large bust. You will always have a government agency nearby you can blame, so it’s futile to try to convince you that capitalism can be monumentally destructive all on its own. But you forget the reason that social welfare states exist in the first place: the thing that came before, more laissez-faire, more wealth concentration, wasn’t doing most people a whole lot of good. If we can’t pay for it then we should raise taxes and spend less on foreign wars. Not just give up on economic justice altogether and hand the store over to the plutocrats.

                1. LOL. That is right Tony rage all you want. The government is going bankrupt and all of your beloved social justice programs with it. And there is not a damn thing you can do about it. When the government is broke, laissez-faire will be the only option available.

                  And don’t forget all the blue states will go bankrupt thanks to public employee pension funds. So when you want to know what happened to your precious welfare state, at least you will know that the unions and the banks stole all the money.

                2. The minute financial industry CEOs came groveling to the government to bail their companies out was the day your worldview ended.

                  Companies go broke all the time. You can’t have a free market unless companies are free to fail.

                  …given that this paradigm had led (inevitably, in the eyes of the few economists paying attention) to a historically large bust.

                  Keynesian economists were completely blindsided by the housing bust, even though they had been busy sneering at those Austrian weirdoes who had been sounding the warnings for years.

                3. The free market worldview ended because some politicians’ buddies realized they could treat Atlas Shrugged’s villains as an instruction manual?

                  Failures will try to use government power to enrich themselves at the expense of others, unless you don’t let them. That’s not a consequence of a free market, that’s a *reason* for a free market.

                4. But you forget the reason that social welfare states exist in the first place: the thing that came before, more laissez-faire, more wealth concentration, wasn’t doing most people a whole lot of good.

                  The social welfare state exists to protect the Crown and the Nobility, not to benefit the Commoners.

              2. You and your kind are the Archie Bunkers of the 21st 20th Century

              3. “Every country that followed the policies you believe in will have gone bankrupt and reorganized.”

                One can hope… but sadly the ones that can may just print their way out of it.

            2. And the shit hit the fan when, instead of letting stupid bankers and stupid citizens fail, the government doubled down on stupid and wrote checks our asses have to cash….until we say F U to the government and say “we’re not paying.” That is what the Tea Party is about, not some racist myth just because a couple vocal idiots are racist. The whole group cares about fiscal responsibility even as a few care about their own little issues.

              1. Tony,

                Almost by definition, government intervention in markets creates bubbles. That’s what a “bubble” is – an artificial support of something that would otherwise collapse on its own. Government intervention is the primary cause of these market bubbles.

                The whole Green technologies thing is around only because of government subsidy. So, since you know the market is supported by government intervention, you assume there’s a bubble and you don’t invest in Green Technologies because you never know when the bubble will burst.

                1. JEP are you trying to say bubbles can’t happen naturally? I’m not saying government can’t inflate demand, but in this specific case it was not government-created demand that caused the bubble. That’s just a fact of mathematics.

                  1. Tony, you’re a dumbass. The only way government could inflate demand would be to purchase the good/service itself, which case the supply wouldn’t give a shit because it’s still earning a profit off of a product.

                    The government can really only influence supply – ie, subsidies, incentives, etc.

                    In this case, it was exactly government that created the bubble: encouraging banks to approve loans that were otherwise poor financial decisions. Because the government guaranteed those loans, the banks approved them because they weren’t responsible for the risk.

                    Also, look at the Federal Reserve. It’s an institution that literally controls what our money’s worth. Interest is literally defined as “the cost of money” and the FED controls the interest rate. You don’t think bubbles are created when the FED decides to raise or lower interest rates because the FED’s interest rate doesn’t equal the actual market value of a dollar?

                    And don’t try to tell me about math you dillweed.

            3. Free market? SEC, FTC, FCC, FDIC, CFTC, OCC, OTS, Federal Reserve, etc. These are all parts of a free market to you? No wonder you have such a thorough misunderstanding of why we had a crisis.

    2. Geez, where did you come from? You’re way to smart to even be here.

  13. Dole Office Clerk – Occupation?
    Comicus – Stand-up philosopher.
    Dole Office Clerk – What?
    Comicus – Stand-up philosopher. I coalesce the vapors of human existence into a viable and meaningful comprehension.
    Dole Office Clerk – Oh, a bullshit artist!
    Comicus – Hmmmmmm…
    Dole Office Clerk – Did you bullshit last week?
    Comicus – No.
    Dole Office Clerk – Did you try to bullshit last week?
    Comicus – Yes!

    1. Sorry, I’m on my wine break!

    2. You gotta love Mel Brooks!

  14. These guys’ heads are so far up their ass they honestly don’t understand that there could be any world view of their own. Otherwise how could you consider Tea Party people “nihilists”? They honestly don’t think there is any position other than theirs. Therefore, anyone that disagrees with them is by definition advocating nihilism. Or to put it more concretely, to these people, anyone who sees solutions that don’t involve government, are advocating nothing since such solutions do not exist.

  15. 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.

    The problem with this kind of cheap sophomoric deconstruction is that it is a universal solvent.

    The natural response is, of course, that if the value of the individual qua individual is contingent and socially constructed, then so is the value of the collective qua collective.

    Neither has any inherent value or advantage, according to this account, so why does our friend the (crypto-)collectivist pretend that the collectivist value set should somehow be privileged?

    1. Also, isnt a tea party a social arrangement? Meaning that they cant possibly be nihilists as they are members or an organization that gives them standing.

      1. la la la la la la la la (fingers in ears) la la la la la la la la I can’t hear you la la la la la la doesn’t fit the argument I pulled out of my ass la la la la la la la la la

  16. I like all the hand-wringing about the possible horrific violence the Tea Party could bring, forgetting to note that the Most Progressive President in Decades is currently sending killer flying robots to murder Third World villagers.

    Sure, those angry American white guys are loud. Some of them have stupid political beliefs. Some of them may think bad things about black people. I may not want to get them anywhere near the levers of power. But take all the people the Tea Party has murdered and add them together, add 1, and then multiply by thousands and thousands, and you get the death toll of The Emperor.

  17. …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.

    No man is an island (which is good because if he was he would probably either be subject to blockade,under a cloud of volcanic ash, hit by an earthquake, or in danger of tipping over from the uneven distribution of U.S. Military personnel).

  18. “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.”

    How exactly the obvious fact that man is not self sufficient leads to the conclusion that we must have an all encompassing state is never quite explained. This is another good example of how sick these people’s minds have become. Of course man needs the support of other man. It is called civil society. And a large government tends to destroy that. But this guy cannot see that there could be any civil society outside of government. Therefore in his view, any attack on government is by definition an attack on all civil society.

    1. Invective aside, the Left has long conflated cooperative social behavior with centrally based coercion, as if the populace is a bunch of kids who won’t play together (fairly?) unless parental/authoritarian government (forcefully) guides them to.

      1. Yes. And they have long wanted to supplant the family, church and other civic institutions with the state. But, they used to at least acknowledge that these things existed. Now, they don’t even know that and think anyone who dissents from state control is a “nihilist”.

  19. To date, the Tea Party has committed only the minor, almost atmospheric violences of propagating falsehoods, calumny and the disruption of the occasions for political speech ? the last already to great and distorting effect. But if their nihilistic rage is deprived of interrupting political meetings as an outlet, where might it now go? With such rage driving the Tea Party, might we anticipate this atmospheric violence becoming actual violence, becoming what Hegel called, referring to the original Jacobins’ fantasy of total freedom, “a fury of destruction”? There is indeed something not just disturbing, but frightening, in the anger of the Tea Party.

    Blow it out your ass, Nancy.

  20. Why do autonomous personally responsible people need the GOP establishment to create their movement for them?

    Polling shows this movement is about little more than being anti-Obama. Sure, they’re much more Republican than the general public, but even to a greater extent are they anti-Obama. And the movement is gleefully supported by the same cynical party figures and their mouthpieces on right-wing cable news who a couple administrations ago were peddling Vince Foster bullshit. There is nothing principled or practical about serving as useful idiots in the machinations of a political party whose only goal is returning itself to power.

    1. “Why do autonomous personally responsible people need the GOP establishment to create their movement for them?”

      Yeah, the GOP establishment loves them. I hear Bob Bennett thinks they are great. Same goes for Trey Greyson. And Charlie Crist as well. Jesus Tony. Stop repeating talking points and pay attention. The Tea Party has driven the GOP establishment nuts.

    2. They don’t. You just believe they need the GOP because you are invested in a false history meant to rationalize your preconceived beliefs.

    3. Why do autonomous personally responsible people need the GOP establishment to create their movement for them?

      Why do you need to believe this is true?

      1. Because the Tea Party movement was the creation of Glenn Beck, an agent of the Republican propagandaministerium.

  21. 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

    How many institutions and artifacts are you fluent in?

  22. I really enjoyed the part of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich where atmospheric Hegelianism became actual Hegelianism. Dramatically speaking, I mean.

    1. But hasn’t the press always told us that the Nazis were on the right? Yeah, I know they supported government control of industry, nanny-state anti-tobacco laws, animal rights laws, price controls, anti-semitism, and the Reich Nature Protection Act. But they were on the right. Right?

  23. Great article on North Korea in the NYT. This woman sounds depressingly like American liberals when talking about North Korea’s devaluation of its currency.

    “The party official’s wife, hair softly curled, a knock-off designer purse by her side, boasted about her six-room house with two color televisions and a garden. In the next breath, she praised devaluation as well-deserved punishment of those who had cheated the state, even though she acknowledged that it led to chaos and noted that a top finance official was executed for mismanaging the policy.

    “A lot of bad people had gotten rich doing illegal trading with China, while the good people at the state companies didn’t have enough money,” she said. “So the haves gave to the have-nots.”

    That sounds like Tony or DanT defending Obamacare.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06…..p;sq=north korea&st=cse&scp=2

  24. …the original Jacobins’ fantasy of total freedom, “a fury of destruction”?

    Come the Revolution, this asshat is so going up against the wall first.

    1. You SFed the link. And it is hysterical that these asshats compare libertarians to the Jacobins. The Jacobins wanted to create a utopia by changing the nature of man and rebuilding society from the ground up. There are direct intellectual decedents of the Jacobins running around today. But they are on the Left not the Right.

      1. Remember that these idiots think that government and society are the same thing. So to them, repealing large parts of the government is exactly the same as the Reign of Terror.

        On that note, here’s Mark Twain on the Reign of Terror:

        There were two “Reigns of Terror,” if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror ? that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.

        1. Thanks for Twain quote. Where can I find that?

          1. It’s from A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court.

            1. Thanks I better read it closer next time.

  25. So the NYT is explaining away the whole political dissent issue with the “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?” problem?

    I assure you that I exist without reference to an external society.

  26. I assure you that I exist without reference to an external society.

    Brave talk, from a figment of my imagination.

  27. Government subsidizing of home loans, while a convenient scapegoat for those looking to escape blame, was not a primary cause of the housing bubble.

    Tony, here you go

  28. Berntein is full of crap – and long winded crap at that.

    Metaphysical?

    The Tea Party wants nothing?

    That is absolute drivel.

    The financial crisis was caused by government meddling in the economy and the current administration is using it (and everything else it can think of) as an excuse to expand the power of the state as fast as possible.

    What the Tea Party wants is for that to stop. And they want the power grabs Obama has instituted to be undone.

    There’s nothing complicated or “metaphysical” about it.

  29. I thought this was hating on the Tea Party, but then the last paragraph threw me off.

    I’ve gone to a Tea Party out of curiosity (of of the two beaners in attendance, the other beaner waving a sign that said ‘I may look like Pancho Villa, but I fight like Gen Patton!’), and except for a few crazy signs, it was a sensible, toned-down affair. Maybe the crazies we see in the news all the time decided to stay home for the day.

    This was an excellent article, very clever and introspective. *likes*

  30. Why are liberal boomers always such pussys? Back in the 50s the civil rights protestors (all of whom were born befor 1945) risked arrests/beatings/lynchings to get their own rights. Think about union oprganizers at the turn of the last century. They were fighting state national guards. You might not agree with their points, but they were tough.

    Now these tools whine, without proof, that people with ideas they don’t like may become violent.

    1. Why are liberal boomers always such pussys? Back in the 50s the civil rights protestors (all of whom were born befor 1945) risked arrests/beatings/lynchings to get their own rights.

      Ahem. Most of the civil rights protests took place during the 60’s, as I recall.

      1. Still handled primarily be people born before 1945.

      2. Yes, many in the 60s, but the movement began to roll in the 1950s.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A….._Movement_(1955?1968)

  31. The reality of the Tea Party isn’t as complicated, or philosophical, as some may pretend that it is.

    The Tea Party represents the 1/5th of America that fears change, hates the government and desperately wants to go back in time to when everyone had a great home, a white picket fence and a wife that cooked them dinner every night.

    Of course, that time never really existed and we can’t travel back in time, but that’s what the Tea Party represents.

    The reason we even hear about the Tea Party is because organizations like FreedomWorks are dumping money and organizing effort to attract and excite this 1/5th of Americans.

    And because the Tea Party is a loosely-defined group of people, contradictions and inconsistency is rampant in their “platform.”

    At the end of the day, the Tea Partiers will hurt the GOP and help the Dems come November. They certainly are not going to chip away at Democratic voters much, but rather conservatives.

    So all this talk of metaphysics is quite irrelevant – the Tea Partiers are simply not that interesting.

    1. “So all this talk of metaphysics is quite irrelevant – the Tea Partiers are simply not that interesting.”

      They are not that interesting. But you still troll on them at every opportunity. Some women have daddy issues. Liberals seem to have “tea party issues”.

  32. Regarding the arguments about the cause of the financial collapse:
    Tony = Tokyo
    John = Godzilla

  33. 1) I think the government is writing checks it can’t cash, and doing damage like Godzilla in Tokyo.

    2) In response, Bernstein writes that my real problem is that I’m upset that I have been forced to confront the truth: that “subjectivity only emerges through intersubjective relations, and hence [] practices of independence, of freedom and autonomy, are held in place and made possible by complementary structures of dependence.”

    3) Reading #2 enrages me, because (i) when you parse the sentence, it is so obvious as to be meaningless, even for those who prefer Thatcher to Blair; and (ii) it’s the stupidest attempt to put words in the mouths of the tea partiers that I have ever seen.

    4) Does #3 make me an angry tea partier?

    1. Don’t forget Jman that you

      “represent[s] the 1/5th of America that fears change, hates the government and desperately wants to go back in time to when everyone had a great home, a white picket fence and a wife that cooked them dinner every night.”

      The liberal talking points on this subject are really pathetic.

  34. It seems as if the author of the article linked wishes to be the new Giovanni Gentile. The state’s own philosopher, propping up power with his own juvenile whoa-dude matrixism.

    Predicting the past, with materialisitc history, and correcting external contradictions with internal consistence. All under the cover of flowery language and two dollar words.

  35. We need more weaponized philosophy in public life. I suggest deploying the 3rd Armored Foulcault Philosotroopers on the Gulf of Mexico to deconstruct the oil spill into its hermeneutical components so it dissipates into a meta-dimension of post-structuralist being qua non-being.

  36. “There is indeed something not just disturbing, but frightening, in the anger of the Tea Party.”

    How little must your weenie be for you to be afraid of a bunch of grandmas and grandpas?

  37. The opposing metaphysical claim, the one I take to be true, is that the very idea of the autonomous subject is an institution…

    Go fuck yourself. Hard. With a sharp object. Fucking commie puke.

  38. If a tree falls and there are no other trees around to “recognize” it, was it actually a tree in the first place?

  39. “subjectivity only emerges through intersubjective relations, and hence [] practices of independence, of freedom and autonomy, are held in place and made possible by complementary structures of dependence.”

    The funny thing is that even if this is true, it’s not true between thou and I, baby doll.

    I can think of several “complementary structures of dependence” in which I have taken part: families, friendships, businesses.

    You know who was never there?

    Bernstein.

    Or Obama.

    Or anyone from the inner city.

    “You were born a helpless infant. You needed people to take care of you. Therefore you aren’t an autonomous individual!”

    Um, guess what, asswipe? The people I owe for the time I was a helpless infant are known as “my parents”. And I’ve checked with them, and they say we’re square.

    How do we make the leap from “Fluffy owes his parents” to “Fluffy owes Obama”? That asswipe wasn’t there. He was getting high. And more power to him for getting high, but I don’t exactly owe him anything for that time. He wasn’t on the clock for me then.

    I can easily go over every last “complementary structure of dependence” I have ever been in, and establish that everyone involved already fucking got paid, or has released me from my obligation. So we’re right back to autonomy again.

    1. How do we make the leap from “Fluffy owes his parents” to “Fluffy owes Obama”?

      What all the Marxists, socialists, progressives, etc. fail to see in this regard is that if Fluffy owes Obama, then Obama also owes Fluffy. If each of us owes Society, then each and every other member of Society owes each of us and each other. The obligations, therefore, all cancel out.

      1. Well they would cancel out, except that some, who presume to speak for everyone else, seem to think that some individuals are more obligated than others.

    2. Yes I have encountered this line of “logic” from liberals on many occaisions in the past.

      Since we didn’t give birth to ourselves or raise ourselves, then somehow that means we all have an obligation to support socialism and defer to the liberals to determine what each and every one of us “owes” to the state – or any other entitiy the see fit to claim we owe something to.

      It is total bullshit.

    3. If we were still hunter-gatherers, the only society you’d be responsible to would be your family unit. But you’d arguably have a hell of a lot more obligations to it than you do to your national society now, assuming you wanted to eat.

      Humans are social animals, you can’t escape that fact. Ants are highly social, eagles not so much; humans happen to be social animals somewhere in between.

      Now I think it’s a perfectly valid argument to say we should never have gone beyond hunter-gatherer state, that we should never have domesticated crops and animals and formed large societies. But you still have to recognize that any society, no matter how large or small, requires some form of government. Whether that’s your parents serving as absolute dictators, the organization of your tribe in tribal society, or your local, state, or federal government. The scope of each is based on the number of people involved. In no case do you get to be absolutely autonomous.

      1. Domesticating crops and animals do not require socialism or have anything to do with “proving” there are a bunch of mystical collective obligations that we all owe to each other.

        The farmer raises crops because he wants to get paid. All the people in the chain between the farmer and the supermarket do what they do because they want to get paid.

        And they all do get paid if they do their job.

        Nothing “extra” is owed to anyone because of that.

        1. Until you start getting into the reality of the situation… in which police are needed to prevent trespassing, contract laws are required to settle disputes, etc., etc. Ideally we all agree to play our part in the structure of society that makes this commerce possible (granted that may be a pragmatic fiction, that still doesn’t mean we don’t require governments).

      2. In no case do you get to be absolutely autonomous.

        Only liberals argue that.

  40. Philosophy is an unusually ingenious attempt to think fallaciously.

  41. It’s nice that the NYT hired Quentin Robert DeNameland, the Greatest Living Philostopher Known to Mankind!!

    What drivel.

  42. What the fuck is Bernstein blabbering about. The main Tea Party ask, as far as I can tell, is that our state stop spending so much of our money. A thoroughly collective, non-individualistic goal that he should approve of.

  43. We should all read the first few sections at least of Husserl’s “Crisis of European Sciences” again (or for the first time) and renew this dialogue.

    90% of the comments here are Cartesian to the core and seemingly unaware or at least unquestioning of it.

  44. It’s too early

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