Saturday, April 22, 2017

If the Left wants to resist the alt-right’s growing power

Criticizing Enlightenment thought has become fashionable across the political spectrum. For the past several decades, more and more academics have called reason into question, especially the sort of rationalist worldview that emerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
This is especially true among left-leaning, postmodern, and post-structuralist thinkers. While it seems surprising that someone like Jorjani would come out of a self-consciously progressive department, suspicion of Enlightenment rationalism has become endemic to liberal philosophy programs like the one at Stony Brook.
One may distill the elements of a right-wing epistemology from these ideas. First, the universe is fundamentally unknowable and mysterious; second, there is no universal human nature, but rather unbridgeable differences between distinct peoples; third, reason itself represents totalitarianism because it blots out essential differences.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The crisis of reproduction

Anger, terrorism, fear:

Left Business Observer: March 2, 2017 - Mark Blyth on neoliberalism and global Trumpism
(the Guardian/Observer article on Mercer and Cambridge Analytica he talks about is here)

Life without Authority: Generational Politics in West Africa
Nigeria has the largest economy on the African continent and is one of the world’s major oil producers. Yet the majority of Nigerians lives in utter poverty and the country is torn by two extremely violent insurgencies. What’s going on? Corruption is only a superficial explanation. More important is a breakdown of state, civic, customary and religious authority – a crisis that leaves the country’s youth in limbo.

The crisis of reproduction:

At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in England, women pulled carts loaded with coal in the mines. When their hips were warped to such a degree that they could no longer have children, the owners decided another solution was needed.

We now face a new crisis of reproduction. This time, however, the crisis is not a result of physical distortion, but of symbolic distortion. Existential issues fail to be addressed by outmoded social mythologies. The result is socio-economic breakdowns, such as austerity, that make it impossible for young people to establish families - very visible in South Europe at the moment. When direct economic limitations are not relevant, it is often cultural adaptations based upon the outmoded mythologies that limit reproduction. The dramatic decline in fertility in Japan and Italy are examples of what happens when women are not offered opportunities expected in modern society. Finally, purely ideological offensives such as "global warming" and "terrorism" (greater expenditures on the military industrial complex) are used to convince people that increases in population are undesirable. "Global warming" can be seen as a reversion to Gaianism, a primitive pagan belief. The Chinese "one child" policy was a direct result of the publication of the book "The Population Bomb." Now the country faces a demographic crisis. In the most extreme cases, we have academics researching "zero-growth economics." All of this in the face of space industrialization, which will expand resources available to humanity more than at anytime in history.