POLITICS: Jones vs. Foucault (was RELIGION: The meaning of Life)

Eric Watt Forste (arkuat@pobox.com)
Fri, 14 Feb 1997 11:18:57 -0800

Reilly Jones writes:
>P.S. Where'd the political system, Bill Clinton, and my state
>legislators get their ideas from? Or even worse, where'd the cursed
>federal judges get their destructive social engineering ideas from?
>Three guesses...

1. The Sermon on the Mount
2. Maynard Keynes
3. busybody do-gooder bored wealthy American political activists, whose
heads seem perfectly capable of generating lots of random destructive
social engineering ideas all on their own

I don't see any French guys on that list, Reilly. I could name a
whole bunch more sources, too. If I were to generalize about it,
I'd have to go along with Hayek that the "intellectual current"
responsible for our sorry political situation is
constructivist-rationalism, the idea that authorities can be trusted
to run society, that individuals are required to figure out what
other people are supposed to do. Not only is that a very old and
pervasive intellectual current, but it also happens to be one that
I think many of the current French poststructuralists are fairly
careful to eschew.

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. 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. Especially when you are such an active pen-wielder yourself.

And finally, it's my opinion that the current crop of French
poststructuralists are neither very original nor very interesting.
The best of them are just riffing off of Nietzsche, so you might
as well blame him. But that's been done to death, which is, I guess,
the reason why you've moved on to abusing the French.

Eric Watt Forste ++ arkuat@pobox.com ++ http://www.pobox.com/~arkuat/