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Breaking a (not self-imposed) silence simply to link to an excellent discussion of the US Tea Party phenomenon by J.M. Bernstein, a philosophy professor at the New School.

In truth, there is nothing that the Tea Party movement wants; terrifyingly, it wants nothing.  Lilla calls the Tea Party “Jacobins”; I would urge that they are nihilists.  To date, the Tea Party has committed only the minor, almost atmospheric violences of propagating falsehoods, calumny and the disruption of the occasions for political speech — the last already to great and distorting effect.  But if their nihilistic rage is deprived of interrupting political meetings as an outlet, where might it now go? With such rage driving the Tea Party, might we anticipate this atmospheric violence becoming actual violence, becoming what Hegel called, referring to the original Jacobins’ fantasy of total freedom, “a fury of destruction”? There is indeed something not just disturbing, but  frightening, in the anger of the Tea Party.

Posting will continue to be scarce as I try to prepare for my summer at St. Olaf. The past few weeks have been a blur of trying to figure out some details for the fall, while also trying to do some reading. I’ve undertaken a ridiculous task of trying to read the Critique of Pure Reason and Infinite Jest at the same time, while also trying to do some other reading that’s more pertinent to what I should be reading right now. Needless to say, it’s an uphill battle.

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I had intended to put together the summary/response to part two of Anatheism tonight, but didn’t make the time. Instead, I happened upon this Eugene McCarraher interview that touches on several of the themes that the Davis and Haley essay gets at, especially regarding the intellectual and moral poverty of the evangelical Right as well as the impotent complicity of the Democratic party. There is a very small part of me that has pragmatist tendencies, and so I recognize that it’s better to go with the somewhat more appealing party, but McCarraher’s analysis, especially of president Obama, strikes me as dead on. The news is depressing, perhaps, but I think it goes to the basic point that we need an option that can break with the current structure, which always moves to subsume any nominal challenges into its mainstream.

Here’s is one of many probing quotes by McCarraher:

That hope is fading, and that’s the third development that characterized the past decade for me: the erosion or atrophy of the conviction that something beyond capitalism is possible. I see it in my brightest students, so many of whom supported Obama and are now wondering how they could have been taken for a ride. I try to tell them, as gently as I can, that they fooled themselves—you saw in Obama what you wanted to see, not what was (often plainly) there. One big reason they fell for Obama is that they have little or nothing in the way of an alternative political imagination; they have only the blurriest of visions in terms of which Obama can be assessed and found very, very wanting. I think credulity about Obama is traceable, in part, to this impoverishment of political vision. The passionate conviction that the world can be otherwise is a kind of love, and love enables you to see things as they are—in other words, it enables you to see the truth, and not fall for lies. It used to be said of youth that they demand too much, that they want the world to change too quickly. I think we’re in a very different moment now, when one of the saddest problems of this generation is that they don’t demand enough; they’re unwilling or unable to imagine and demand a different kind of world. At Villanova, where I teach, the business school attracts the largest number of majors—a not unusual situation in American higher education, which has pretty much become the vo-tech school for post-Fordist capitalism.

It’s better to get the quote in context, because it’s really hard to pick just one quotable section. The best news is that it’s only part 1 of 3. Also, it should please readers to know that McCarraher also touches on the (in)famous third-way talk.

H/T Halden.

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