March 3, 2014

Old dogs, new tricks

One of the supreme ironies of my lifetime — at least, from my perspective — has been the dogged adherence even the most erudite of cosmopolitan Jews have shown toward the Democratic Party, even as the Party itself has grown increasingly hostile to Israel, increasingly removed from at least basic support for free market principles, and more and more obviously the vehicle of the New Left, who back before they took over the Party deplored it as a bastion of bourgeois ineffectuality.

Not to bore you, but in academic circles, this is a disease, one that is transferred through the cultural bloodstream. Being a “liberal” is the de facto state of being, and then a sneering embrace of the cartoonish version of “conservatism” is endlessly parroted and nurtured and reinforced by the hive mind.

The cure, as I found — and this won’t surprise you — lies in language, and with who gets to claim control over the meaning of the individual: that is, who gets to have final say of the will of the individual. Liberals believe themselves champions of individual freedom, but they are the farthest thing from it, demanding consensus control over narratives, insisting on group identity and the purity tests (often tied to political or policy beliefs that go along with them) to decide who can lay claim to an authenticity they themselves define, and in the most broad terms, always pressing the will of the collective onto and individual in a way that demeans, degrades, marginalizes, and discredits individualism and individual autonomy as something selfish and socially immoral — all while extolling the “communal” aspects of the “greater good.”

My discussions on how this operates simply by institutionalizing an incoherent idea of language and signification is well documented here. Which is why it is always interesting and — though late in the game, encouraging — when men of the genius of Philip Roth, whom I have long believed to be one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century, begin to voice their own consternation at what they know to be the diabolical and dangerous use of “democratizing” interpretation.

There were, for those of you who read it, strong undertones of this in Human Stain. But here he is, essentially speaking of intentionalism without ever having to put on or take off a clown nose, and doing so in a rather straightforward manner:

It is my comic fate to be the writer these traducers have decided I am not. They practice a rather commonplace form of social control: You are not what you think you are. You are what we think you are. You are what we choose for you to be. Well, welcome to the subjective human race. The imposition of a cause’s idea of reality on the writer’s idea of reality can only mistakenly be called “reading.”

Of course, this is only Philip Roth — and his Otherness was only en vogue in the late 60s or thereabouts, making him a marginal figure — so perhaps someone from some annex somewhere in the icy parking lot of an upstate New York community college will find the time, between fruity libations, to dismantle this clownish nonsense for the delectation of his readers.

At the very least, we may need to point to Roth’s pseudo intellectualism. Because that’s just how we roll.

(h/t Dani)

Posted by Jeff G. @ 9:28am

Comments (24)

  1. Speaking of Israel, can Bibi refrain from laughing in, spitting in and/or punching Obama’s face?

    Obama to Israel — Time Is Running Out

    When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the White House tomorrow, President Barack Obama will tell him that his country could face a bleak future — one of international isolation and demographic disaster — if he refuses to endorse a U.S.-drafted framework agreement for peace with the Palestinians. Obama will warn Netanyahu that time is running out for Israel as a Jewish-majority democracy. And the president will make the case that Netanyahu, alone among Israelis, has the strength and political credibility to lead his people away from the precipice.

  2. “Time is Running Out”!

    We laugh, though we shouldn’t laugh. For who would willingly miss a world-historical opportunity the like of that never-again-coming ClownDisaster’s rule of America? Surely not the guffawing sane men.

  3. What with so many alien balls in the air today opportunistic leaders of Russia’s near abroad, should they pause to consider things for a moment, just might realize that they have been presented a rare gift — a time in which any desire they may harbor to re-seize lands possessed (oh hell, let’s just say stolen by Russia in days gone by) by Putin’s tottering empire now lie at their feet, ready for the taking, if only these leaders concert to all act at once and with only the barest modicum of coordination.

  4. It’s interesting, when one considers the path of the first-rate mind who really doesn’t give a shit. In his youth, he’s painted as a rebel, a hipster, or some other kind of pretender who really, deeply cares, but adopts the facade of one who does not. Later, as his body of work grows and his reputation evolves, he comes across as one filled with bitterness that he’s never been appreciated.

    Only when he has gone grey and stepped away from his labors, do observers finally grasp what was there all along: the man really doesn’t give a shit what the gossips and the babblers think, and he never did.

    One imagines that such a state of affairs must be wonderfully refreshing.

  5. Demographic disaster

    sdferr linked to how this is a lie.

  6. Change is apparently not scary to Mr. Obama, who is confident all his policies are right. Those who disagree are uninformed, or itching for conflict, or ignorant about the risks they will soon face, or sadly unable to adapt to world events. This is the Obama who said of his own nomination that “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” If he believes it, it must be so. The Goldberg interview reveals that five years in, nothing has changed.

    Still the “solid ‘B'” President, eh?

  7. Words, and what they mean.

    During his speech to Democrats on Friday evening, President Obama pointed out that it was the Democrats, not Republicans that should own the word “freedom.”

    As Democrats, we’ve let the other side define the word ‘freedom’ for too long,
    “Freedom is the peace of mind of knowing that if you got sick, you won’t lose everything,”… “Freedom is the ability to change jobs and start a new business, chase a new idea without fear of losing your health insurance.”
    “Freedom is signing for that new home and knowing it can’t be taken from you because you actually understand what you’re signing,” … “Freedom is getting that new credit card and knowing the stakes and understanding how you’re going to manage it; enrolling in college and knowing what you’ll owe once you graduate.”
    “Freedom is the knowledge that your future in this country is secure; you’re not going to be treated like a second-class person once we fix our broken immigration system. That’s freedom,”
    “Freedom is the ability to go into a store or a restaurant without the fear that you’d be refused service because of who you are or who you love,”
    “So we’re not ceding that word,” Obama said…

    Freedom as a “positive right” which government will bestow one you not that negative one that you have from nature or nature’s god.

  8. For those of us who are True Americans, these days Freedom’s just another word for noting left to lose.


  9. Jonah Goldberg havin’ some fun with a talk on his book about lefty cliche.

  10. Okay…’nothing’.

  11. No way! I love Chief Wahoo.

  12. Freedom sounds like perpetual adolescence masquerading as real adult life.

    Which explainse why sex is such a big item on the Left’s freedom agenda.

  13. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to tax.

  14. Pingback: The Camp Of The Saints

  15. Someone needs to beat the “freedom” out of that fucking nitwit. I’m voting for the Ghost of Samuel Adams.

    If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.

    I would amend this so that posterity not forget that we elected this dumb son of a bitch because he talked pretty. But aside from that, yup.

  16. There was a small orgy of self-congratulation at how not-racist we all were too, as you no doubt recall.

  17. “I would amend this so that posterity not forget that we elected this dumb son of a bitch because he talked pretty ”

    He didn’t talk that pretty. He got elected because 1.) the housing bubble scared people and 2.) a non expiring “not a racist” pass for the whole country would be in the mail eventually. He got reelected because nobody ran against him.

  18. He talked pretty as long as the words were on the teleprompter. But don’t confuse that with a suggestion that he said anything of great substance.

  19. “Freedom is signing for that new home and knowing it can’t be taken from you because you actually understand what you’re signing,” … “Freedom is getting that new credit card and knowing the stakes and understanding how you’re going to manage it; enrolling in college and knowing what you’ll owe once you graduate.”

    Freedom is…..debt! Dear God, what did we do to deserve this idiot?

  20. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Anyone who isn’t vigilant enough to know ahead of time that debt has to be paid off, isn’t fit to be free.

  21. Evelyn Gordon exposes yet another ClownDisaster piece of propaganda: Obama’s Settlement Construction Lie

    *** In short, if settlement construction were really the death blow to the peace process that Obama and his European counterparts like to claim, Netanyahu ought to be their favorite Israeli prime minister ever instead of the most hated, because never has settlement construction been as low as it has under him. The obvious conclusion is that all the talk about settlement construction is just a smokescreen, and what really makes Western leaders loathe Netanyahu is something else entirely: the fact that unlike Rabin, Barak, Sharon and Olmert, he has so far refused to offer the kind of sweeping territorial concessions that, every time they were tried, have resulted in massive waves of anti-Israel terror.

    But it doesn’t sound good to say they hate Netanyahu because of his reluctance to endanger the country he was elected to serve. So instead, Western leaders prefer to harp on settlement construction, secure in the knowledge that no journalist will ever bother to check their “facts.” ***