The task of public philosophy
|Trey Speegle @ The Morning News/|
Andrew Taggart on the value of public philosophy to left politics @ New Public Thinking.
On Sunday, February 13, I received an email to this effect:I enjoyed reading your recent essay [“In the Land of Bloombergia,” Counterpunch, 9 February 2011] critiquing the critique of your Mayor Bloomberg. I have much the same thoughts when I read a lot of left critiques of our cultural and political elites. It usually doesn’t take creative genius to perceive that these elites are morally and intellectually bankrupt, whereas it would take some real inspiration to propose something original that we all could do about it. After running through a list of failures from healthcare reform to the War on Terror to the “corporate welfare scheme,” the writer concludes on a Leninist note, asking “what we can DO about such things.”The final question resonates on two levels. Like most of us, he is exasperated by what little has been done since the end of the Cold War to fundamentally change the world order, and his words, like ours, are laced with a touch of fatalism as if to say that there is not much that can be done. It feels as if the war against capitalism and statism has been lost on both fronts and as if, in our obsessive criticisms of the status quo, we were expressing—interminably, Sisyphusianly—our sense of collective trauma as well as our acute feeling of resentment.But there is a second way of interpreting his question. On this construal, his utterance is an accusation, in Kantian terms “a tribunal of reason.” Radical leftist politics, he seems to be asking, what have you done for us lately? But in asking that leftist politics say what it has or has not done to improve our political situation, he is demanding that it give an account of itself.read more