Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More on lack of liberal theory

I noticed this post at No Left Turns by Joseph Knippenberg today and found it interesting in light of my e-mail to Bevan referenced in the previous post. Reading it this morning prompted me to write the post about that e-mail without waiting to see if I got a reply. Knippenberg is well worth a read. I find his quotation of a left-wing academic about the weakness of Peter Beinart's theorizing especially good:
Here’s an author who clearly is insufficiently informed about the classic critiques of political liberalism put forth by Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Schmitt, Strauss, and Kojève. My progressive postie friends would cringe at his clunky attempts at defining a national purpose by demonizing and scapegoating an Other. Beinart desperately takes a crowbar to the work of political theorists Michael Walzer and Hannah Arendt in an attempt to dignify his case that the war on terror ought to be seen as continuous with earlier wars against communism and fascism. But my undergraduates, drawing more thoughtfully on Arendt, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Foucault, would have an easy time dismantling his adamant but woefully antiquated notion of totalitarianism. Such a book will not engage or inspire my undergraduates, because--should I say it baldly? --it is theoretically impoverished, something of an embarrassment to read. It is not worthy of their intellectual efforts. Is this the best we can do?

This brings to mind the old lawyer's advice to a young litigator -- when you have the law on your side, argue the law. When you have the facts, argue the facts. When you have neither, pound the table and raise your voice.

What we are seeing from Democrats over the last few years is a lot of table-pounding and raised voices. They can't figure out what they stand for except that they just know that the GOP is evil. To keep the faithful faithful, they have to yell louder and louder.


Post a Comment

<< Home