Frontier 1AC

Download 323.11 Kb.
Date conversion29.04.2016
Size323.11 Kb.
1   ...   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12

AT: Frontier K (Bookchin)

Their emphasis on the legacy of colonialism and genocide cripples our ability to denounce dictatorships and move progressively towards democracy

Bruckner 2010 (Pascal, Professor of Philosophy at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, The Tyranny of Guilt)

From existentialism to deconstructionism, all of modern thought can be reduced to a mechanical denunciation of the West, emphasizing the latter’s hypocrisy, violence, and abomination. In this enterprise the best minds have lost much of their substance. Few of them have avoided succumbing to this spiritual routine: one applauds a religious revolution, another goes into ecstasies over the beauty of terrorist acts or supports a guerilla movement because it challenges our imperialist project. Indulgence toward foreign dictatorships, intransigence toward our democracies. An eternal movement: critical thought, at first subversive, turns against itself and becomes a new conformism, but one that is sanctified by the memory of its former rebellion. Yesterday’s audacity is transformed into clichés. Remorse has ceased to be connected with precise historical circumstances; it has become a dogma, a spiritual commodity, almost a form of currency. a whole intellectual intercourse is established: clerks are appointed to maintain it like the ancient guardians of the sacred flame and issue permits to think and speak. At the slightest deviation, these athletes of contrition protest, enforce proper order in language, accord their imprimatur or refuse it. In the great factory of the mind, it is they who open doors for you or slam them in your face. This repeated use of the scalpel against ourselves we call the duty of repentance. Like any ideology, this discourse is at first presented in the register of the obvious. There is no need for demonstrations because things seem clear: one has only to repeat and confirm. The duty to repent is a multifunction fighting machine: it censures, reassures, and distinguishes. First of all, the duty to repent forbids the Western bloc, which is eternally guilty, to judge or combat other systems, other states, other religions. Our past crimes command us to keep our mouths closed. Our only right is to remain silent. Next, it offers those who repent the comfort of redemption. Reserve and neutrality will redeem us. no longer participating, no longer getting involved in the affairs of our time, except perhaps by approving of those whom we formerly oppressed. in this way, two different Wests will be defined: the good one, that of the old europe that withdraws and keeps quiet, and the bad one, that of the united states that intervenes and meddles in everything.
Their criticism of Western thought is part and parcel of the new academic fad of antihumanism—in rejecting Western civilization, they end up in a position of absolute relativism

Bookchin 1994 (Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)

Rarely have the concepts that literally define the best of Western culture--its notions of a meaningful History, a universal Civilization, and the possibility of Progress--been called so radically into question as they are today. In recent decades, both in the United States and abroad, the academy and a subculture of self-styled postmodernist intellectuals have nourished an entirely new ensemble of cultural conventions that stem from a corrosive social, political, and moral relativism. This ensemble encompasses a crude nominalism, pluralism, and skepticism, an extreme subjectivism, and even outright nihilism and antihumanism in various combinations and permutations, sometimes of a thoroughly misanthropic nature. This relativistic ensemble is pitted against coherent thought as such and against the "principle of hope" (to use Ernst Bloch's expression) that marked radical theory of the recent past. Such notions percolate from so-called radical academics into the general public, where they take the form of personalism, amoralism, and "neoprimitivism." Too often in this prevailing "paradigm," as it is often called, eclecticism replaces the search for historical meaning; a self-indulgent despair replaces hope; dystopia replaces the promise of a rational society; and in the more sophisticated forms of this ensemble a vaguely defined "intersubjectivity"--or in its cruder forms, a primitivistic mythopoesis--replaces all forms of reason, particularly dialectical reason. In fact, the very concept of reason itself has been challenged by a willful antirationalism. By stripping the great traditions of Western thought of their contours, nuances, and gradations, these relativistic "post-historicists," "postmodernists," and (to coin a new word) "post-humanists" of our day are, at best, condemning contemporary thought to a dark pessimism or, at worst, subverting it of all its meaning.

AT: Countermemory

Their disruption of historical certainty ends up affirming naïve relativism, undermining all hopes for social progress

Bookchin 1994 (Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)

So grossly have the current critics of History, Civilization, and Progress, with their proclivities for fragmentation and reductionism, subverted the coherence of these basic Western concepts that they will literally have to be defined again if they are to be made intelligible to present and future generations. Even more disturbingly, such critics have all but abandoned attempts to define the very concepts they excoriate. What, after all, is History? Its relativistic critics tend to dissolve the concept into eclectically assembled "histories" made up of a multiplicity of disjointed episodes--or even worse, into myths that belong to "different" gender, ethnic, and national groups and that they consider to be ideologically equatable. Its nominalistic critics see the past largely as a series of "accidents," while its subjectivistic critics overemphasize ideas in determining historical realities, consisting of "imaginaries" that are essentially discontinuous from one another. And what, after all, is Civilization? "Neoprimitivists" and other cultural reductionists have so blackened the word that its rational components are now in need of a scrupulous sorting out from the irrationalities of the past and present. And what, finally, is Progress? Relativists have rejected its aspirations to freedom in all its complexity, in favor of a fashionable assertion of "autonomy," often reducible to personal proclivities. Meanwhile, antihumanists have divested the very concept of Progress of all relevance and meaning in the farrago of human self-denigration that marks the moods of the present time.

A skepticism that denies any meaning, rationality, coherence, and continuity in History, that corrodes the very existence of premises, let alone the necessity of exploring them, renders discourse itself virtually impossible. Indeed, premises as such have become so suspect that the new relativists regard any attempts to establish them as evidence of a cultural pathology, much as Freudian analysts might view a patient's resistance to treatment as symptomatic of a psychological pathology. Such a psychologization of discussion closes off all further dispute. No longer are serious challenges taken on their own terms and given a serious response; rather, they are dismissed as symptoms of a personal and social malaise.

So far have these tendencies been permitted to proceed that one cannot now mount a critique of incoherence, for example, without exposing oneself to the charge of a having a "predisposition" to "coherence"--or a "Eurocentric" bias. A defense of clarity, equally unacceptable, invites the accusation of reinforcing the "tyranny of reason," while an attempt to uphold the validity of reason is dismissed as an "oppressive" presupposition of reason's existence. The very attempt at definition is rejected as intellectually "coercive." Rational discussion is impugned as a repression of nonliterate forms of "expression" such as rituals, howling, and dancing, or on an ostensibly philosophical scale, of intuitions, presciences, psychological motivations, of "positional" insights that are dependent on one's gender or ethnicity, or of revelations of one kind or another that often feed into outright mysticism.
Their relativism makes ethics impossible and culminates in nihilism—the kritik is only a way for them to feel good about doing nothing in the context of academia

Bookchin 1994 (Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)

Perhaps the most problematic aspect of relativism is its moral arbitrariness. The moral relativism of the trite maxim "What's good for me is good for me, and what's good for you is good for you," hardly requires elucidation.[2] In this apparently most formless of times, relativism has left us with a solipsistic morality and in certain subcultures a politics literally premised on chaos. The turn of many anarchists these days toward a highly personalistic, presumably "autonomous" subculture at the expense of serious, indeed, responsible social commitment and action reflects, in my view, a tragic abdication of a serious engagement in the political and revolutionary spheres. This is no idle problem today, when increasing numbers of people with no knowledge of History take capitalism to be a natural, eternal social system. A politics rooted in purely relativistic preferences, in assertions of personal "autonomy" that stem largely from an individual's "desire," can yield a crude and self-serving opportunism, of a type whose prevalence today explains many social ills. Capitalism itself, in fact, fashioned its primary ideology on an equation of freedom with the personal autonomy of the individual, which Anatole France once impishly described as the "freedom" of everyone to sleep at night under the same bridge over the Seine. Individuality is inseparable from community, and autonomy is hardly meaningful unless it is embedded in a cooperative community.[3] Compared with humanity's potentialities for freedom, a relativistic and personalistic "autonomy" is little more than psychotherapy writ large and expanded into a social theory.

Far too many of the relativistic critics of History, Civilization, and Progress seem less like serious social theorists than like frightened former radical ideologues who have not fully come to terms with the failures of the Left and of "existing socialism" in recent years. The incoherence that is celebrated in present-day theory is due in no small part to the one-sided and exaggerated reaction of French academic "leftists" to the May-June events of 1968, to the behavior of the French Communist Party, and in even greater part to the various mutations of Holy Mother Russia from Czarism through Stalinism to Yeltsinism. Too often, this disenchantment provides an escape route for erstwhile "revolutionaries" to ensconce themselves in the academy, or embrace social democracy, or simply turn to a vacuous nihilism that hardly constitutes a threat to the existing society. From relativism, they have constructed a skeptical barrier between themselves and the rest of society. Yet this barrier is as intellectually fragile as the one-sided absolutism that the Old Left tried to derive from Hegel, Marx, and Lenin.
Relativism cripples all efforts to resist totalitarianism, enabling the worst atrocities in history including Hitler and Stalin

Bookchin 1994 (Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)

Current expositions of oxymoronic "market socialisms" and "minimal statisms" by "neo-" and "post-Marxists" suggest where political relativism and assertions of "autonomy" can lead us.[5] Indeed, it is quite fair to ask whether today's fashionable political relativism itself would provide us with more than a paper-thin obstacle to totalitarianism. The dismissal of attempts to derive continuity in History, coherence in Civilization, and meaning in Progress as evidence of a "totalizing" or "totalitarian" mentality in pursuit of all-encompassing foundations directly or indirectly imbricates reason, particularly that of the Enlightenment era, with totalitarianism, and even significantly trivializes the harsh reality and pedigree of totalitarianism itself. In fact, the actions of the worst totalitarians of our era, Stalin and Hitler, were guided less by the objectively grounded principles or "foundational" ideas they so cynically voiced in public than by a kind of relativistic or situational ethics. For Stalin, who was no more a "socialist" or "communist" than he was an "anarchist" or "liberal," theory was merely an ideological fig leaf for the concentration of power. To overlook Stalin's sheer opportunism is myopic at best and cynical at worst. Under his regime, only a hopelessly dogmatic "Communist" who had managed to negotiate and survive Stalin's various changes in the "party line" could have taken Stalin seriously as a "Marxist-Leninist." Hitler, in turn, exhibited amazing flexibility in bypassing ideology for strictly pragmatic ends. In his first months in power, he decimated all the "true believers" of National Socialism among his storm troopers at the behest of the Prussian officer caste, which feared and detested the Nazi rabble.
Objectivity and rationality are the foundation for all meaningful social emancipation, AND our framework solves their impacts through self-critical reflection

Bookchin 1994 (Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)

In the absence of an objective grounding--notably, the very real human potentialities that have been formed by the natural, social, moral, and intellectual development of our species--notions like freedom, creativity, and rationality are reduced to "intersubjective" relations, underpinned by personal and individualistic preferences (nothing more!) that are "resolved" by another kind of tyranny--notably, the tyranny of consensus. Lacking foundations of any kind, lacking any real form and solidity, notions of "intersubjectivity" can be frighteningly homogenizing because of their seemingly "democratic" logic of consensuality--a logic that precludes the dissensus and ideological dissonance so necessary for stimulating innovation. In the consensual "ideal speech situation" that Jürgen Habermas deployed to befog the socialist vision of the 1970s, this "intersubjectivity," a transcendental "Subject" or "Ego" like a mutated Rousseauian "General Will," replaces the rich elaboration of reason. Today this subjectivism or "intersubjectivity"--be it in the form of Habermas's neo-Kantianism or Baudrillard's egoism--lends itself to a notion of "social theory" as a matter of personal taste. Mere constructions of "socially conditioned" human minds, free-floating in a sea of relativism and ahistoricism, reject a potential objective ground for freedom in the interests of avoiding "totalitarian Totalities" and the "tyranny" of an "Absolute." Indeed, reason itself is essentially reduced to "intersubjectivity." Juxtaposed with literary celebrations of the "subjective reason" of personalism, and its American sequelae of mysticism, individual redemption, and conformity, and its post-1968 French sequelae of postmodernist, psychoanalytic, relativist, and neo-Situationist vagaries, Marx's commitment to thorough thinking would be attractive.

Ideas that are objectively grounded, unlike those that are relativistically asserted, can provide us with a definable body of principles with which we can seriously grapple. The foundational coherence and in the best of cases the rationality of objectively grounded views at least make them explicit and tangible and free them from the vagaries of the labyrinthine personalism so very much in vogue today. Unlike a foundationless subjectivism that is often reducible, under the rubric of "autonomy," to personal preferences, objective foundations are at least subject to challenges in a free society. Far from precluding rational critique, they invite it. Far from taking refuge in an unchallengeable nominalist elusiveness, they open themselves to the test of coherence. Paul Feyerabend's corrosive (in my view, cynical) relativism to the contrary notwithstanding, the natural sciences in the past three centuries have been among the most emancipatory human endeavors in the history of ideas--partly because of their pursuit of unifying or foundational explanations of reality.[6] In the end, what should always be of concern to us is the content of objective principles, be they in science, social theory, or ethics, not a flippant condemnation of their claims to coherence and objectivity per se. Indeed, despite claims to the contrary, relativism has its own hidden "foundations" and metaphysics. As such, because its premises are masked, it may well produce an ideological tyranny far more paralyzing than the "totalitarianism" that it imputes to objectivism and an expressly reasoned "foundationalism." Insofar as our concerns should center on the bases of freedom and the nature of reason, modern relativism has "decentered" these crucial issues into wispy expressions of personal faith in an atmosphere of general skepticism. We may choose to applaud the relativist who upholds his or her strictly personal faith by reiterating Luther's defiant words at Worms, Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders ("Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise"). But to speak frankly, unless we also hear a rational argument to validate that stand, one based on more than a subjective inclination, who gives a damn about this resolve?

The denial of objective history derails efforts for human emancipation, including all efforts to resist capitalism

Bookchin 1994 (Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)

Which raises again the problem of what History, Civilization, and Progress actually are.

History, I wish to contend, is the rational content and continuity of events (with due regard for qualitative "leaps") that are grounded in humanity's potentialities for freedom, self-consciousness, and cooperation, in the self-formative development of increasingly libertarian forms of consociation. It is the rational "infrastructure," so to speak, that coheres human actions and institutions over the past and the present in the direction of an emancipatory society and emancipated individual. That is to say, History is precisely what is rational in human development. It is what is rational, moreover, in the dialectical sense of the implicit that unfolds, expands, and begins in varying degrees through increasing differentiation to actualize humanity's very real potentialities for freedom, self-consciousness, and cooperation.[7]

It will immediately be objected that irrational events, unrelated to this actualization, explode upon us at all times and in all eras and cultures. But insofar as they defy rational interpretation, they remain precisely events, not History, however consequential their effects may be on the course of other events. Their impact may be very powerful, to be sure, but they are not dialectically rooted in humanity's potentialities for freedom, self-consciousness, and cooperation.[8] They can be assembled into Chronicles, the stuff out of which a Froissart constructed his largely anecdotal "histories," but not History in the sense I am describing. Events may even "overtake History," so to speak, and ultimately submerge it in the irrational and the evil. But without an increasingly self-reflexive History, which present-day relativism threatens to extinguish, we would not even know that it had happened. If we deny that humanity has these potentialities for freedom, self-consciousness, and cooperation--conceived as one ensemble--then along with many self-styled "socialists" and even former anarchists like Daniel Cohn-Bendit, we may well conclude that "capitalism has won," as one disillusioned friend put it; that "history" has reached its terminus in "bourgeois democracy" (however tentative this "terminus" may actually be); and that rather than attempt to enlarge the realm of the rational and the free, we would do best to ensconce ourselves in the lap of capitalism and make it as comfortable a resting place as possible for ourselves.

Even given the atrocities of genocide, the abandonment of rational institutions and non-relativistic ethics makes possible the worst atrocities in history, literally hell on earth

Bookchin 1994 (Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)

As a mere adaptation to what exists, to the "what-is," such behavior is merely animalistic. Sociobiologists may even regard it as genetically unavoidable, but my critics need not be sociobiologists to observe that the historical record exhibits a great deal of adaptation and worse--of irrationality and violence, of pleasure in the destruction of oneself and others--and finally to question my assertion that History is the unfolding of human potentialities for freedom, self-consciousness, and cooperation. Indeed, humans have engaged in destruction and luxuriated in real and imaginary cruelties toward one another that have produce hells on earth. They have created the monstrosities of Hitler's death camps and Stalin's gulags, not to speak of the mountains of skulls that Mongol and Tartar invaders of Eurasia left behind in distant centuries. But this record hardly supplants a dialectic of unfolding and maturing of potentialities in social development, nor is the capacity of humans to inflict cruelties on each other equivalent to their potentialities for freedom, self-consciousness, and cooperation.

Here, human capacities and human potentialities must be distinguished from each other. The human capacity for inflicting injury belongs to the realm of natural history, to what humans share with animals in the biological world or "first nature." First nature is the domain of survival, of core feelings of pain and fear, and in that sense our behavior remains animalistic, which is by no means altered with the emergence of social or "second nature." Unknowing animals merely try to survive and adapt to one degree or another to the world in which they exist. By contrast, humans are animals of a very special kind; they are knowing animals, they have the intelligence to calculate and to devise, even in the service of needs that they share with nonhuman life-forms. Human reason and knowledge have commonly served aims of self-preservation and self-maximization by the use of a formal logic of expediency, a logic that rulers have deployed for social control and the manipulation of society. These methods have their roots in the animal realm of simple "means-ends" choices to survive.

But humans also have the capacity to deliberately inflict pain and fear, to use their reason for perverse passions, in order to coerce others or merely for cruelty for its own sake. Only knowing animals, ironically animals capable of intelligent innovation, with the Schadenfreude to enjoy vicariously the torment of others, can inflict fear and pain in a coldly calculated or even passionate manner. The Foucauldian hypostasization of the body as the "terrain" of sado-masochistic pleasure can be easily elaborated into a metaphysical justification of violence, depending, to be sure, on what "pleases" a particular perpetrating ego.[9] In this sense, human beings are too intelligent not to live in a rational society, not to live within institutions formed by reason and ethics, institutions that restrict their capacity for irrationality and violence.[10] Insofar as they do not, they remain dangerously wayward and unformed creatures with enormous powers of destruction as well as creation.

***Even if civilization and progress are caught up in the legacy of violence and domination, rational ethics is still on balance the only way to nourish emancipation and prevent the repetition of atrocities

Bookchin 1994

(Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)
History, Civilization, and Progress are the rational social dispensations that form, even with all the impediments they face, a dialectical legacy of freedom. The existence of this legacy of freedom in no way denies the existence of a "legacy of domination," which remains within the realm of the irrational. Indeed, these "legacies" intertwine with and condition each other. Human ideals, struggles, and achievements of various approximations to freedom cannot be separated from the cruelties and barbarities that have marked social development over the centuries, often giving rise to new social configurations whose development is highly unpredictable. But a crucial historical problematic remains, to the extent that reason can foresee a given development: Will it be freedom or domination that is nourished? I submit that Progress is the advance--and as everyone presumably hopes, the ascendancy--of freedom over domination, which clearly cannot be conceptually frozen in an ahistorical eternity, given the growing awareness of both hopes and oppressions that have come to light in only a few recent generations. Progress also appears in the overall improvement, however ambiguous, of humanity's material conditions of life, the emergence of a rational ethics, with enlightened standards of sensibility and conduct, out of unreflexive custom and theistic morality, and social institutions that foster continual self-development and cooperation. However lacking our ethical claims in relation to social practice may be, given all the barbarities of our time, we now subject brutality to much harsher judgments than was done in earlier times.

It is difficult to conceive of a rational ethics--as distinguished from unthinking custom and mere commandments of morality, like the Decalogue--without reasoned criteria of good and evil based on real potentialities for freedom that speculative reason can educe beyond a given reality. The "sufficient conditions" for an ethics must be explicated rationally, not simply affirmed in public opinion polls, plebiscites, or an "intersubjective" consensus that fails to clarify what constitutes "subjectivity" and "autonomy." Admittedly, this is not easy to do in a world that celebrates vaporous words, but it is necessary to discover truth rather than work with notions that stem from the conventional "wisdom" of our times. As Hegel insisted, even commonplace moral maxims like "Love thy neighbor as thyself" raise many problems, such as what we really mean by "love."[18]

Our defense of objectivity does not mean that we embrace the oversimplifications of science

Bookchin 1994 (Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)

Among the important concepts and relationships that require elucidation is the tendency to reduce objectivity to the "natural law" of physical science.[19] In the conventional scientific sense of the term, "natural law" preordains the kinetic future of objects colliding with each other. It may even preordain an individual plant will become under the normal conditions required for its growth. Objectivity, however, has a multiplicity of meanings and does not necessarily correspond to the "laws" that the natural sciences seek to formulate. It involves not only the materiality of the world in a very broad sense but also its potentialities, as a very real but as yet unrealized form structured to undergo elaboration. The evolution of key life-forms toward ever-greater subjectivity, choice, and behavioral flexibility--real potentialities and their degrees of actualization--and toward human intellectuality, language, and social institutionalization, is transparently clear. An objective potentiality is the implicit that may or may not be actualized, depending upon the conditions in which it emerges. Among humans, the actualization of potentiality is not necessarily restricted by anything besides aging and death, although it is not free to unfold unconditionally. But minimally, the actualization of humanity's potentialities consists in its attainment of a rational society. Such a society, of course, would not appear ab novo. By its very nature it would require development, maturation, or, more precisely, a History--a rational development that may be fulfilled by the very fact that the society is potentially constituted to be rational. If the self-realization of life in the nonhuman world is survival or stability, the self-realization of humanity is the degree of freedom, self-consciousness, and cooperation, as well as rationality in society. Reduced merely or primarily to scientific "natural law," objectivity is highly attenuated. It does not encompass potentiality and the working of the dialectic in existential reality, let alone its presence, so to speak, as a standard for gauging reality against actuality in the unfolding of human phenomena.[20]

Our commitment to the notion of progress is the prerequisite for combatting the evils of capitalism

Bookchin 1994 (Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)

Marx's claim to have unearthed "the natural laws of capitalist production" was absurd, but to advance relativism as an alternative to it is equally absurd. In a younger, more flexible time, Marx insightfully claimed, "It is not enough that thought should seek its actualization; actuality itself must strive toward thought."[21] Thought, qua dialectical reason, becomes transformative in shaping the present and the future insofar human rational praxis objectively actualizes the implicit. Today, when subjectivism reigns supreme and when the common response even to significant events is to erase any meaning and coherence from History, Civilization, and Progress, there is a desperate need for an objectivity that is immensely broader than natural science and "natural laws," on the one hand, and an emphasis on the idiosyncratic, "imaginary," and adventitious, on the other. If vulgar Marxists used "science" to turn the ethical claim that "socialism is necessary" into the teleological assertion that "socialism is inevitable," today's "post-Marxist" critics repeat a similar vulgarity by mordantly celebrating incoherence in the realm of social theory. The claim of socialism's inevitability was crudely deterministic; the claim of its necessity was a rational and ethical explication.

Objectivity and reason is the foundation of ethics

Bookchin 1994 (Murray, Founder of the Social Ecology Movement, author of hundreds of books and articles, Professor Emeritus at Ramapo College, “History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism”,,_Civilization,_and_Progress.html)

Although the broader objectivity that dialectical reasoning educes does not dictate that reason will prevail, it implies that it should prevail, thereby melding ethics with human activity and creating the basis for a truly objective ethical socialism or anarchism. Dialectical reason permits an ethics in history by upholding the rational influence of "what-should-be" as against "what-is." History, qua the dialectically rational, exercises a pressing "claim," so to speak, on our canons of behavior and our interpretation of events. Without this liberatory legacy and a human practice that fosters its unfolding, we have absolutely no basis for even judging what is creative or stagnant, rational or irrational, or good or evil in any constellation of cultural phenomena other than personal preference. Unlike science's limited objectivity, dialectical naturalism's objectivity is ethical by its very nature, by virtue of the kind of society it identifies as rational, a society that is the actualization of humanity's potentialities.[23] It sublates science's narrow objectivity to advance by rational inferences drawn from the objective nature of human potentialities, a society that increasingly actualizes those potentialities. And it does so on the basis of what should be as the fulfillment of the rational, that is to say, on rational knowledge of the "Good" and a conceptual congruence between the Good and the socially rational that can be embodied in free institutions.

Their emphasis on historical atrocities enacts a politics of guilt that decimates our ability to combat genocide or take ethical actions

The American Spectator 2010 (“Guilt Gone Wild”,

The problem with us rugged individualists is we are hard ones for collective guilt. Maybe our forefathers did some pretty awful things -- who hasn't? -- but that's between them and their gods. All we ask is you leave us out of it. We may have inherited their genes, but not their sins. And certainly not their money -- not that mine had any.

America, being the land of rugged individualists, is an especially irksome place to the eternally guilt-ridden European. Because we stubbornly refuse to sackcloth and ashes, we can never experience the "comfort of redemption." Not a problem. We'll get by with the comfort of beer and television.

This explains why there is so much anti-Americanism "over there." The haters hate us because their ancestors produced fascism, communism, genocide, slavery and imperialism and they feel like hell about it. Then they see us happily going about our business and they demand we stop acting so innocent and smug. They throw the Trail of Tears up to us. Jim Crow. McCarthyism. We remind them that we saved their butts in two world wars, and they hate us even more. They get rankled when we speak up (or worse, do something) about genocide and human rights in the lands of the oppressed, when, as every "guilt peddler" knows, we should be flagellating ourselves and seeking repentance.

Since the West has pleaded guilty to all charges and then some, we naturally cannot be trusted to do the right thing, or even know what the right thing is. That was Germany's excuse to stand idly by during the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and it will be Germany's excuse for the next hundred years. "Our past crimes command us to keep our mouths closed," writes novelist Pascal Bruckner in his engaging new book-length essay. We dare not speak out lest we open ourselves to charges of hypocrisy by every tin-pot dictator or terrorist leader. How dare we condemn bin Laden when Custer massacred the Sioux? Oh, wait, the Sioux massacred Custer. You get the point.

This kind of fuzzy thinking is freely on tap in Western Europe and in the current White House. "From existentialism to deconstructionism, all of modern thought can be reduced to a mechanical denunciation of the West, emphasizing the latter's hypocrisy, violence and abomination," Bruckner writes. It was a conceit that reached its peak in 2001 when so many Western intellectuals praised the Twin Tower attacks as America's comeuppance, when the oppressed finally struck back.

This faux remorse is actually a ragged disguise masking feelings of moral superiority. We have become our parents and the rest of the developing world is our naughty kids whose misdeeds can be blamed on their parents' sins (colonialism and racism). No wonder their development remains stunted.

Our historical guilt has now gone to such absurd extremes that it threatens basic liberties like free speech. In one example, Bruckner argues our unwillingness to offend Islam means the death of religious satire. At least religious satire of Islam. (Though I suspect episodes like Comedy Central's censoring of South Park was an instance of fear and cowardice, not political correctness.)

THIS COLLECTIVE historical guilt is puerile and destructive, Bruckner writes. Our good deeds vastly outweigh our bad. "There is no doubt that Europe has given birth to monsters, but at the same time it has given birth to theories that make it possible to understand and destroy these monsters." No culture has been without sin, therefore none of us should be pointing fingers or throwing stones. But if, god forbid, somebody does start throwing stones -- or bombs -- some one needs to have the moral courage to put an end to it.
Their critique abandons all good things to come from the West in the hasty effort to over-criticize the violent colonial past

Reno 2010 (R.R., Prof Theology at Creighton Universtiy, “The Pleasures of Self-Hatred”,

From existentialism to deconstruction,” writes Pascal Bruckner in his broadside, The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism, “all modern thought can be reduced to a mechanical denunciation of the West, emphasizing the latter’s hypocrisy, violence, and abomination.”

I wouldn’t say that John Rawls or Jürgen Habermas or Benedict XVI fit that description. Yet Bruckner, one of the so-called “new philosophers” in France who made a big stir in the 1970s when they criticized the habitual Marxism of French intellectuals, points to a very real and powerful trend in contemporary Western culture. We seem to love to hate ourselves.

The self-accusations are familiar. We are imperialists, racists, and purveyors of unsustainable consumption that threatens to engulf the world in an environmental disaster. The colonization of the New World amounted to genocide. Our greed supports brutal tyrants. Capitalism depends upon the exploitation of the world’s poor. On and on goes the litany of shame.

To a certain extent, our present self-laceration reflects one of the virtues of Western culture. Socratic philosophy and Old Testament prophecy combined to create a strong impulse toward self-criticism as a way to overcome self-deceptions and false loyalties. It was not an accident that St. Thomas began his analysis of the truths of Christianity by surveying the objections. As he knew, the pressure of criticism pushes us toward a fuller and more self-aware grasp of the truth.

Yet, as Bruckner recognizes, our postmodern age does not seem to view criticism as a way of refining and deepening our loyalty to the real achievements of Western culture, not the least of which is the freedom to criticize. We seem to relish denunciation for its own sake.

Blaming the West for the violence and oppression in the world is a NEW FORM of colonialism that implies that the West has the capacity to be responsible for all of the world’s sins AND it whitewashes our present situation to make us feel good about ourselves when we do nothing

Reno 2010 (R.R., Prof Theology at Creighton Universtiy, “The Pleasures of Self-Hatred”,

Why? To begin, the notion that the West is the Great Satan feeds our egoism. As Bruckner explains, “This is the paternalism of the guilty conscience: seeing ourselves as the kings of infamy is still a way of staying on the crest of history.”

For a long time the liberal establishment in America believed that our society was the source of good in the world. The traumas of the 1960s undermined this complacent belief in American exceptionalism. But it did not lead to a more nuanced view of America's place in the world. The vanity remained intact, transforming itself into a belief that America is the exceptional source of evil in the world.

We are still the great exception, but now we're exceptionally bad. Our litanies of shame differ from Woodrow Wilson’s naive Americanism only in the conclusions they draw. Islamic terrorism? Caused by Western imperialism. African kleptocracy? Caused by the legacy of colonialism.

There are other enticements to orgies of self-criticism. For example, Bruckner overlooks the joys of destruction. Blowing up buildings is thrilling, and so is deconstructing cultural institutions. To show that America was founded on the slaughter of Native Americans, the evil of slavery, and a naked quest of profit–what a delicious prospect. In their small way, the postmodern intellectuals whom Bruckner quotes so extensively share in an eroticism of demolition. It’s an excitement of the soul familiar to adolescent males, and one central to the early years of Nazi hegemony in Germany. Slashing self-criticism also creates a slapstick, carnival atmosphere. Showing how the plot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet operates according to a hidden suppression of otherness is like throwing cream pies at the school principal. Demonstrating the sexism of the church fathers is akin to giving the finger to a policeman as you drive by. It’s titillating to flaunt authority, especially when you are applauded for doing so. High fives all the way around. In the main, however, the tyranny of guilt tends to please because it feeds our moral conceit. As St. Augustine recognized, all societies are deeply implicated in human sinfulness. We may achieve a degree of justice, but our common life remains haunted by perverted desires. Hyper-critique promises to lift us out of our fallen condition. We ascend to a place were we imagine that we can see all the evils–and we assume, falsely, that such a place must be good, and that our residency there makes us good in turn.

Rejection and criticism are insufficient—justice can only emerge from a commitment to improving society and affirmation of progress and solidarity

Reno 2010 (R.R., Prof Theology at Creighton Universtiy, “The Pleasures of Self-Hatred”,

It’s not surprising that we are tempted by the illusion of purification-by-self-criticism. As I observed a couple of weeks ago, we often take the same approach to knowledge, thinking that if we can see all the errors, then we’re on our way to truth. But it is not so. In fact, if we paralyze ourselves with fear of error, then we end up isolated from the real drama of the intellectual life, which involves drawing closer to what is true.

The same holds for justice. Cultures and societies can be conquered and subjugated from the outside, but they only be reformed from within. It’s not an accident that Charles de Gaulle was able to end France’s colonial fantasies in Algeria. His loyalty to France was primitive, and although he had many ideological enemies, few doubted his visceral patriotism. He could steer the ship, because the sailors knew he would not abandon them. Or take an American example. Lyndon Johnson had an acute sense of the failures of American society–racism most poignantly, and neglect of the poor as well. And yet no one doubted his loyalty to the American project. When he declared a war on poverty, it was not seen as a war on American culture, but an attempt to reform and improve it. Today, the greatest impediment to justice in the West may be a growing lack of patriotism among elites: captains indifferent to the ships they command. Hyper-critique breaks the bonds of solidarity that bind our hearts, offering nothing to love, no loyalty to place or people or history in its place. The West has much to regret, as do all societies, all cultures. The critical moment remains necessary, otherwise we make an idol of our worldly loves. Yet, as Pascal Bruckner recognizes, today we gorge on critique. We need to recover the affirmative moment of solidarity, rededicating ourselves to what we have inherited rather than imagining ourselves at a denouncing distance. For gratitude and loyalty bind the heart, motivating us to restore, renovate, and reform.

1   ...   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12

The database is protected by copyright © 2016
send message

    Main page