POLITICS: Jones vs. Foucault

Reilly Jones (Reilly@compuserve.com)
Sat, 15 Feb 1997 00:31:00 -0500

Eric Watt Forste wrote 2/14/97: <I don't see any French guys on that list,
Reilly. I could name a whole bunch more sources, too.>

Please name them, the more the merrier!

<But we need to keep in mind that all such attempts to trace intellectual
currents in history and pin responsibility on them are examples of
collectivist thinking, and that collectivist thinking is often misleading.>

You lost me here. Historians chronicling the progression of ideas from
individual to individual are all guilty of "collectivist thinking"?
Perhaps you're confusing this work with "historicism," the attempt to sneak
determinism back into liberty-loving Western polities to subvert them.
Attempts to merely trace intellectual currents and pin responsibility on
them for their consequences, good or bad, has nothing whatsoever to do with
"collectivist thinking." It has to do with aiming at truth, and
highlighting cause-and-effect; answering the important question of what
ideas have worked and what ideas have not worked. It is an individual
vocation undertaken seriously and responsibly. History done by committee
or by "collectivist thinking" is more typified by the monocultural
group-think compost-modernists, aka 'revisionist' history.

<If you are a lover of liberty, you believe in free speech, and it seems
strange to me for a believer in free speech to blame the wielder of the pen
and not the wielder of the sword.>

It seems strange to me that you do not see that the wielders of the sword
are egged on and rationalized by the wielders of the pen. If the pen is
mightier than the sword, shouldn't we aim at the pens (the ideas, of
course) that set up the moral and intellectual atmosphere for harmful
consequences to liberty-loving polities anywhere in order to counter them?
Your position seems ostrich-like.

<And finally, it's my opinion that the current crop of French
poststructuralists are neither very original nor very interesting.>

I agree, radical skepticism is boringly repetitive historically, always
with the same harmful results fostered by the moral corrosion spread by it
in societies. Yet here we are again, not learning from history.

<...you've moved on to abusing the French.>

Next you'll be calling me "mean-spirited." I've been wary of the French
for a very long, long time. But what really clinched it for me, was the
immortal words of the great philosopher Al Bundy, on a TV episode of
"Married... With Children" where Professor Bundy climbed down a mountain
with the modern version of the Ten Commandments etched on the back of a
guitar; he intoned the modern Second Commandment: "It is wrong to be
French." That did it for me, a total self-epiphany, the grok of ages,
absolute truth emanating from the boob tube, the most unlikely place I'd
have expected to find it.

Reilly Jones | Philosophy of Technology:
70544.1227@compuserve.com | The rational, moral and political relations
| between 'How we create' and 'Why we create'