Friday, January 26, 2007

Leftists Against Diversity

Via A&L Daily comes a polemic against the happy talk of diversitarianism. Walter Benn Michaels' The Trouble With Diversity apparently examines how racial concerns have overshadowed economic ones among the progressive set:

But as Mr. Michaels notes in his sharply argued polemic The Trouble with Diversity, that tends to be the very point of the jargon of diversity: It allows us not to talk about the increasingly rigid partition of our society along class lines. For as we enthusiastically fine-tune our sensibilities about how cultural or racial groupings can best be spoken about or symbolized, most social goods in our country—health care, affordable housing and higher education, income support, a living wage—drift further and further out of reach for many ordinary Americans. This is far from accidental, Mr. Michaels says; the marketing of cultural diversity as a social desideratum has crowded out any clear understanding—especially on the left end of the political spectrum—of how class privilege operates in America today.

Examples abound, but Mr. Michaels correctly focuses on the fetishizing of racial difference—a tic shared among partisans of every ideological persuasion—as the key factor in the flight from a class-based politics. Mr. Michaels doesn’t deny the persistence of racism, but notes that it’s been significantly downgraded: "Racism has been privatized," he writes, "converted from a political position into a personal failing." And Americans romance nothing quite so ardently as remedies for a personal failing: The mandate to appreciate the anodyne ideal of "cultural diversity"—itself a labored euphemism for the defeat of structural racism—"gives us a vision of difference without equality," since all cultures in this view of things are equally worthy of respect. And this central reverie, Mr. Michaels argues, means that "the political commitment to equality involves not creating it (by, say, redistributing wealth) but just insisting that it’s already there."


In reality, of course, the whole notion of encouraging economic diversity is farcical: A sane view of social justice involves decreasing the number of poor people, and hence reducing economic diversity. "Indeed," Mr. Michaels writes, "since economic diversity is just another name for economic inequality, it’s hard to see why we would want to promote it."

During my college years, I always felt the superficiality in the ever-present encomia to diversity. My aloofness from the celebrations derived in part from my disdain for its collapse of particular ethnicity into a vague racial "Whiteness." I also chafed at the unsubtle religiously-blind secularism of diversity-boosters.

In hindsight, the absence of complaint about economic divisions becomes more notable. Most everyone on a college campus, the maintenance staff excepted, is a part of or well on their way to becoming part of the professional class, and the poorer students are too busy working multiple jobs to seek attention. Perhaps a latent meritocratic disdain for the uncredentialed, the feeling of being above the herd in the "top twenty percent" of the educated, affects even the most sensitive activist souls.

However great the ineptitude of progressive economic policy, diverse platitudes hinder it from the dignity of popular consideration, not to mention refutation.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Ingrown Poetry Scene

What are the characteristics of a poetry-subculture publication? First, the one subject it addresses is current American literature (supplemented perhaps by a few translations of poets who have already been widely translated). Second, if it prints anything other than poetry, that is usually short fiction. Third, if it runs discursive prose, the essays and reviews are overwhelmingly positive. If it publishes an interview, the tone will be unabashedly reverent toward the author. For these journals critical prose exists not to provide a disinterested perspective on new books but to publicize them. Quite often there are manifest personal connections between the reviewers and the authors they discuss. If occasionally a negative review is published, it will be openly sectarian, rejecting an aesthetic that the magazine has already condemned. The unspoken editorial rule seems to be, Never surprise or annoy the readers; they are, after all, mainly our friends and colleagues.
Dana Gioia, Can Poetry Matter?

Gioia also quotes Robert Bly:
We have an odd situation: although more bad poetry is being published now than ever before in American history, most of the reviews are positive. Critics say, "I never attack what is bad, all that will take care of itself," . . . but the country is full of young poets and readers who are confused by seeing mediocre poetry praised, or never attacked, and who end up doubting their own critical perceptions.

Calls to mind that stinker of an award-winning poem published in the Jesuits' America

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sam Harris: New Age Village Atheist

Here I thought that Sam Harris was a nineteenth-century materialist, stiff-necked and hardheaded in his skepticism.

Not really. Alternet Reports:
Harris, however, argues that not just Western gods but philosophers are "dwarfs" next to the Buddhas. And a Harris passage on psychics recommends that curious readers spend time with the study "20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation."

Asked which cases are most suggestive of reincarnation, Harris admits to being won over by accounts of "xenoglossy," in which people abruptly begin speaking languages they don't know. Remember the girl in "The Exorcist"? "When a kid starts speaking Bengali, we have no idea scientifically what's going on," Harris tells me. It's hard to believe what I'm hearing from the man the New York Times hails as atheism's "standard-bearer."

Perhaps Harris is more typical of those nineteenth-century Orientalists who piggybacked on materialist polemics, only to fill the spiritual void with exotic haphazard borrowings from the East. Possibly Harris is representative of the worst Boulder Buddhists, motivated mainly by the cachet of an "Anything but Christianity" spirituality.

To my regret, I have found his forays into New Age beliefs more noteworthy than his advocacy of torture. As penance, I include his not-so-subtle ethical calculations:

"We know [torture] works. It has worked. It's just a lie to say that it has never worked," he says. "Accidentally torturing a few innocent people" is no big deal next to bombing them, he continues.

A Night Among the Cowboy Poets

The National Western Stock Show is in town, and that means it's time for the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, now in its eighteenth season. Musicians and rhymesters from across the region gather to entertain locals and stock show exhibitors. Numerous men in the audience were dressed in plaid flannel shirts and blue jeans. I felt at home, for this is the standard "business casual" dress of my father, a Wyoming native.

Cowboy poetry and folk music are refreshingly free of those poisonous ironic poses beloved by certain Denverites disdainful of our cow town's past and present. The genre shuns the psychological self-absorption so common among those contemporary musicians and poets who inflict their unfulfilled and unremarkable longings upon their listeners. Cowboy poetry favors the tactile: dirt, skin, blood, and bones.

Possessing sentiment without being sentimentalist, its forays into emotion include the lamentation, the humorous, the humorous lamentation, and the embarrassingly humorous lamentation. For the Cowboy Poet the West is always lost, or being lost: the kids are moving away from the ranch, the cattle are dying, Geronimo's gone, and those damn city folk are moving in.

The Arvada Center's concerts feature five or six artists who perform two or three of their songs or poems. The Friday evening concert I attended did not start well. The first musician, an older man, was having a bad night, forgetting the lyrics to one of his songs. His musical bones clattered nervously as his memory failed, rescued at last by one of his fellow performers.

The night went up from there. Chuck Larsen regaled the crowd with a tale of a severely saddle-sore cowboy who chokes his pride and wears his wife's silk panties for relief. He also recited a poem memorializing Larsen's own "getting Saved," which involved the visit of a pastor and his spouse to an unchurched man and his proselytizing wife, and an accidental cowpie to the face of said wife during a medical examination of a bull.

Like I said, the style favors the tactile.

The poem itself is unavailable on-line, but here is a selection from another of Larsen's poems:

In performin' my Cowboy Poetry
I stick to Cowboy Gatherin's as a rule.
Until the Coffee House guru called,
Said it'd be movin', like really cool.

He said their crowd was reachin' out
In darkness, sufferin' cultural incontinence.
Asked if I'd come release a vision
Of the West, the Cowboy experience.

I showed up on the given night.
Listened to their first urban poet.
He sure had a way with words,
But when he was finished I didn't know it.

I started feelin' pretty outa place.
By the second act I was feelin' worse.
Why I even got to wishin'
I'd of written a little free verse.

On the musical side of the evening, the group Prickly Pair gave the finest performance of the night. One of their songs is environmentalist, in its way. The chorus runs:

We're all part of the big food chain,
the big food chain of life.
We eat things, and things eat us,
And it works out so nice.

We're all part of a great big stew
and someday we'll discover
We're born we live we die
and we're all food for one another.

I much prefer this song to The Lion King's reverent pean to pantheism "The Circle of Life."

The fiddler was wisecracking to his guitar-playing wife throughout their performance. While extolling the wonders of the food chain, he insisted that "vegetarian" is an old Indian word meaning "poor hunter." He also told of being asked if a bar and grill served vegetarians. His reply? "Of course! What do you think cows are?"

Prickly Pair's other songs included a song from the Australian range and a ballad of a girl and her doomed robber beau, sung with a beautiful Celtic warble. (The pair lately performed at Estes Park's Scottish/Irish Festival.) It seems the wife of the pair, Locke Hamilton, had a personal link with my family: she has a family connection to the T E Ranch near Cody, Wyoming, where my own great-grandfather and his brother once served as ranchhands for the legendary Buffalo Bill.

Skip Gorman, who has caught the attention of National Public Radio, rounded off the evening. He closed with the touching nineteenth-century ballad Utah Carroll, written for a wrangler killed while rescuing the traiboss' young daughter from a stampede.

So you ask me my kind friend
Why I am sad and still
And why my brow is darkened
Like the clouds upon the hill

Rein in your ponies closer
And I'll tell you all a tale
Of Utah Carroll, partner
And his last ride on the trail

In a grave without a headstone
Without a date or name
My partner lies there silent
In the land from which I came

Long ago we rode together
We'd ridden side by side
I loved him like a brother
And I wept when Utah died.

The evening was a reminder of a genre neglected by pop culture since the days of Gene Autry. It is welcome to know that Country/Western's better half is still getting along, following the well-worn trail of its talented trailblazers.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Frank Capra as an Anti-Sentimentalist

This is why Frank Capra, contrary to popular opinion, is one of the most challenging of all filmmakers and in some ways the most disturbing. Most "serious films"—the "hard-hitting" "uncompromising" films—ask us only to accept, for example, that poverty is bad, relationships are hard, that politics is corrupt. In short, their "challenge" consists precisely in asking us to accept ideas that we already accept anyway, even if we struggle to know just what to do about them. In these comedies, Capra asks us to accept that the old-fashioned American ideals are still good, that David really can whip Goliath, that our prayers do not go unheard, that the meek shall inherit the earth. In other words, he asks us to accept things about which we have grave, grave doubts. And he is uncompromising in his asking: he doesn't ask us to accept these propositions as nice or inspirational or comforting or helpful—he asks us to accept them as true.
Rod Bennett, The Gospel According to Frank Capra

Thursday, January 11, 2007

How To Satisfy Communist Investigators

One time, I heard him[Karol Wojtyla] recount, with a vein of irony, the times that he was called in by the police for the inevitable and frequent questionings. He was asked about his positions on politics, on society, on the structures of power. He answered them at length. He spoke to them about his personal concept of man, citing some contemporary thinkers but even Aristotle's Ethics and Plato's Politics. Then he would distinguish between the ethic of values in Max Scheler and the dangers of solipsism made concrete in 'reflecting on reflection."

Of course, the functionaries questioning him understood nothing of these long monologues. And in the end they would let him go, and write on their reports, "He is not dangerous."

"And they thought," he told me years later, laughing,"that one day, I too would end up collaborating."
Joaquin Navarro-Valls

Another Retreatant at Clear Creek Monastery

The writer at The Donegal Express relates how he almost killed a monk:
Everyone's happy now for maybe five minutes. Jimmy and the monk are splitting and I’m measuring the wood they split. That ended when I tripped over a rock.

I start stumbling backwards and fling my arms out to catch my balance. That’s when the board I was holding flew out of my arms and starts spinning through space. It’s slicing across the work area, like a sidearmed an axe, right at the monk.

All I could think was, "Aww snap! They ain’t never gonna let me be an Oblate now!"

Right before the board plunged into the back of his neck, the monk bent down to pick up something. It missed the top of his head by maybe an inch. He looks at the board which is now embedded into a nearby tree, turns around and says, "Well, that could have been much worse."

The monastery was noted here before. It isn't too far from me. I must consider a trip there.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Absurdist Politics

As Peter Heath observed some decades ago in his wonderful book The Philosopher's Alice, Lewis Carroll was not a writer of nonsense but rather an absurdist, and a Carrollian character is absurd precisely because he does not blithely depart from the rules but "persists in adhering to them long after it has ceased to be sensible to do so, and regardless of the extravagances which hereby result." When Carroll's characters assume the authoritative tone, the opinions they express are invariably ridiculous, but those opinions "are held on principle and backed by formal argument... The humor lies not in any arbitrary defiance of principle, but in seeing a reasonable position pushed or twisted by uncritical acceptance into a wholly unreasonable shape.
-David B. Hart, "Daniel Dennett Hunts the Snark," First Things, January 2007

Hart writes this of a pop-atheist writer, but he could have said this of local anti-Ladies' Night crusading lawyer Steve Horner

Monday, January 08, 2007

Against Mock-Stoic Muggers

Many of the people who are angry at or even hate Mr. Bush have very good reasons, and they are not making arguments for anger but are making impassioned arguments against an abominable and awful administration. If those arguments put off many “moderates” and the like, it is because our political culture has almost certainly become too pathetically nice and has been completely sapped of the kind of vigour that once made politics the sort of rough-and-tumble affair in which decent men would not have wanted women to participate because of its harshness.

Nowadays we have the ludicrous Speaker of the House having photo-ops of children holding the Speaker’s gavel and the President talking about how much he cares about this or that suffering group. The endless appeals to bipartisanship, the constant flow of saccharine rhetoric and the nauseatingly cheerful ranks of professional politicians tell me that our political culture is so far from being flooded with anger that it isn’t even funny. For those who, like Mr. Wood, think we live in an age of considerable political anger and fear its culturally destructive effects, I will point them to the bizarre enthusiasm for Barack Obama, who always offers the sickening “let’s bring people together” pap and embodies the tiresome ”I understand your valid concerns” style of disingenuous politicking. [...] Personally, I regard this treacly, meaningless kind of political appeal as a far more serious threat to the quality of our political discourse than legions of bitter Kossacks shouting themselves hoarse with contempt for the GOP. The Kossacks and the like may not have much to say, but they do say something. Politicians operating in the Obama style have nothing to say and actually seem proud that they deal in such empty banter.
Daniel Larison

On occasion I wonder what Ambrose Bierce, author of The Devil's Dictionary, would deride in modern life were he expanding his lexicon today. My favored entry for "extremist" runs:

"Extremist: a person disdained by major political and media figures."

Prompted by the above attack on mock-stoic muggers, I invent another entry:

"Angry Man: Person whose face cannot display an airbrushed smile for the television cameras."

The Life of Vincent McNabb, OP

More on Vincent McNabb:
The full extent of Father McNabb's own charity will of course never be known. What he did privately remained private even after the public death that we will shortly be considering. One known instance may have to suffice. In another rotting block of flats close to Camden Lock lived an old bed-ridden woman. For months, possibly for years, someone came regularly to talk to her, to tidy the room and to scrub the floor. A few weeks after Father McNabb had died, a group of people living in rooms near to the womans were discussing who would do the job as the old lady who had come to do the work before had evidently stopped coming. Only the bed-ridden ladys best friend knew that this lady had in fact been Father McNabb, on his way to Parliament Hill, dropping in for an half-hour-or-so to see the old lady.

Or another story:
On a more serious note, he once attended a public meeting on the subject of the Mental Degeneracy Bill then passing through the House of Commons. After listening to various medical experts explaining how they would certify as degenerates, and as a result sterilise, many types with whom Father McNabb was familiar in his pastoral work, the good friar stood up and, having been called to speak by the chairman of the meeting, bellowed: "I am a moral expert and I certify you as moral degenerates!" He stormed out of the meeting to rapturous applause and the meeting broke up in disarray.

"Buy boots you can walk in. Walk in them. Even if you lessen the income of the General Omnibus Company, or your family doctor; you will discover the human foot. On discovering it, your joy will be as great as if you had invented it. But this joy is the greatest, because no human invention even of Mr. Ford or Mr. Marconi is within a mile of a foot."
-Vincent McNabb

Decentralist Links of Note

Small is Still Beautiful, a blog being written in concert with the release of Joseph Pearce's book on the life and thought of E.F. Schumacher.

The Vincent McNabb Society, dedicated to the Dominican who so inspired Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton in their interpretations of Catholic social thought.

Here is McNabb defending agrarianism:
The third (psychological) principle is that from the average man we cannot expect more than average virtue. A set of circumstances demanding from the average man more than average (i.e. heroic) virtue is called an Occasion of Sin.

The fourth (moral) principle is that the occasions of sin should be changed, if they can possibly be changed, i.e. they must be overcome by flight not fight.

The great observed fact, of world-wide incidence, is that in large industrialized urban areas (and in town-infested rural areas) normal family life is psychologically and economically impossible; because from the average parent is habitually demanded more than average virtue...
..From this observed fact that the industrialized town is an occasion of sin we conclude that, as occasions of sin must be fled,... Flight from the Land must be now be countered by Flight to the Land."

Egalitarianism Gone Wild: Ladies' Nights Banned

A local killjoy has successfully banned ladies' night from a nightclub on the grounds that it is discriminatory:
A self-proclaimed "agitator" against feminism declared ladies nights at Colorado nightspots dead Friday after prevailing in the first stage of a civil rights complaint against the Proof Nightclub in southeast Denver.

Steve Horner learned Thursday that Colorado's Division of Civil Rights for the Department of Regulatory Agencies sided with him in his complaint that men were unfairly having to pay cover charges and higher drink prices than women at the Proof's ladies nights.

"Ladies night is now illegal," said Horner, a 59-year-old corporate speaker, who says he's been on an anti-feminist crusade since his wife left him with two young children several years ago.

While Horner claimed that all bars will have to cancel ladies nights, officials from the Department of Regulatory Agencies said their rulings only apply to the targeted business, in this case the Proof.

Some mountain towns have two informal tiers of pricing, one for the poorer locals, another for the tourists. I suppose that will be the next target, as others observe the benefits of the man's shameless profiteering:
"This is now a violation of law. I will now make it a point to visit as many ladies nights as I can every week. I'll have my rights violated, then I'll sue them in county court and collect my $500 (the maximum penalty in county court for each incident of discrimination)," Horner said.

"I feel it could net me $3,000 to $4,000 a week easy, and I'm going to do it," he added. "It takes me five minutes to be discriminated against."

This blatant reductio ad absurdum of egalitarian practice renders one speechless. How is one to respond when one crackpot successfully advances his personal vendetta with the full power of the state? Perhaps we are all equal only in the sense that we can beckon regulatory agents solely to enact our pettiest dictatorial urges.

Horner the Kook, for all his anti-feminist vituperations, actually represents another cloacal stream of feminist thought. He's a useful idiot for feminists and other pimps set on tearing down what remains of traditional male deference to women. Though it is a stretch of the word to claim as "courting" the gift of a free drink in a bar, it still represents an attitude of supplication towards the woman. However many base desires drive some offers, they nonetheless presuppose that a woman deserves honor for granting the privilege of her company.

The extirpation of such practices is a goal of the sophisters, economists and calculators who dominate our chivalry-passed age. May all their tongues fall out!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Rocco Palmo to Speak at Denver Theology On Tap

The author of Whispers in the Loggia is coming to town. He is speaking March ninth on the topic of "E-vangelization: Disciples in a Digital Age," or How to integrate modern technology with the Gospel of Christ.

Being uninterested in ecclesiastical gossip, I hardly ever visit his blog. Nonetheless I am still looking forward to his talk. Further details are at the Archdiocese of Denver website.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Habermas and Ratzinger on Secularism

Historical Christian has written an essay on Jurgen Habermas and his analysis of contemporary secularism. One line suggests how secularism is turning moribund:
Habermas has come to believe that modern Liberalism is "intrinsically self-contradictory" because it represses and devalues the free speech of religious citizens, and demands of them "an effort to learn and adapt that secular citizens are spared having to make."

The casual contempt secularists have conceived for religion hinders them from fully engaging other streams of thought. The religious impulse cannot be assimilated to and elevated by hard secularist habits, only suppressed.

More catholic secularists often try to re-envision religions as primitive science or psychological therapies, usually without successful engagement with the objects of their reclassification.

The Christian Church, by contrast, has long professed that the religious expressions found across cultures and history is not an organ without an object, but preparations for evangelization, real and metaphorical altars to an unknown god.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Subversion and Censorship

Via Mere Comments, an obvious but necessary skewering of our time's schoolmarmish pro-obscenity, anti-censorship postures:
We still believe in censorship today. It's just that we're too hypocritical to call it censorship, and talk instead of "inappropriate language" in regard to gender or ethnic stereotyping, and of the need to have our "awareness raised". Bah humbug, says Ladenson, in so many words. At the same time, we are so permissive and civilised, à la Jenkins, that you can find de Sade (Moors murderer Ian Brady’s favourite bedtime reading), with its catalogue of child rapes, sexual tortures, mutilations and murders, in any high-street bookshop. And all thanks to such highbrow defenders as Simone de Beauvoir, who hailed de Sade for "his ability to disturb us": the bog-standard defence of every shlocky writer or artist going nowadays. Just because some great works of art are disturbing does not mean that a disturbing work of art must be great. A pretty simple principle, although one that still seems to elude the understanding of many a contemporary Brit artist.

Ladenson isn’t fooled. Our knowing sniggers at Victorian prudery hardly suggest that we have attained any greater maturity ourselves, while de Sade sits freely and unexpurgated on our bookshelves "as a reassurance that ours is a culture that has shed the pointless repressions of the past and fully embraced transgression as an absolute . . . Ours is an age all for subversion, as long as the ideas subverted are other than our own".
-Christopher Hart

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sterilizing the Body Politic

For pre-democratic peoples, begetting and filiation are the elementary locus and analogate of human order, for in the household the material boundaries of human identity have their strongest natural roots. But modern philosophers taught that we are in fact born free and equal into a "state of nature." Our humanity is universal from the outset, wholly manifest in each person. Although the modern philosophers also taught that the state of nature makes all the more necessary the construction of a political order--man reborn, as it were, through the social contract--this is not the moral of the story today. The structures of politics now must serve an abstract and universal "man," who is only incidentally situated as a citizen--or, for that matter, as a spouse, or a child.
-Russell Hittinger, "Dissecting a Democratic Illusion"
Intercollegiate Review Fall 2006

This is a review of Pierre Manent's new work A World Beyond Politics?. Hittinger focuses Manent's reflections on the problems political abstractions pose for us embodied creatures. Universalist anti-nationalism diffuses to the point of inconsequence the variety of bodies politic, while egalitarianism encourages blindness to basic physical differences between individual human bodies: strong and weak, adult and child, man and woman, young and old.

Granting the accuracy of this analysis, it is little surprise that the nations most affected by universalism are producing the fewest children. Theirs is the universalism of the now, stripped ofthose messy corporate connection between past and future.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Against Caesarism

I am sick of presidential funerals.

Why did several key institutions shut down simply for the death of a former president of little consequence who died of old age? The local mail is backed up by four days of snow and two holidays. Gerald Ford's funeral has added to that backlog, making it an exact week.

Why is tax money being spent on a funeral rivaling that of royalty? Why are we giving politicians even more chances to praise their fellow politicians?

I am sick of government officials creating memorials for themselves and their predecessors. Let's stop naming schools and prominent public buildings after them and start putting their names on sewage treatment plants and prisons.

While we're at it, we should remove the images of presidents and their cabinet members from our coinage, replacing them with wildlife and non-politician historical figures. I'm sure some Southerners would love to replace Lincoln with Elvis.

We should vandalize the blasphemous mock-Pantocrator Apotheosis of Washington in the capitol building, and dynamite the presidential memorials littering DC. The Mount Rushmore Memorial ruined a perfectly good eroding mountain with the sixty-foot heads of Teddy Roosevelt and friends. Presidential statues should be prominent only in presidential hometowns, party headquarters, and Ozymandias homages.

We won't even have to commemorate the anniversary of our iconoclasm.

Groupthink Critics are a Tiresome Herd

Roger Sandall, doing what few men have done before, courageously denounces groupthink in his essay The herd instinct:
I once attended an event at the Sydney Opera House where some 2500 people had gathered. A Danish percussion group were performing and they wanted the crowd to participate. Their leader stood and gave orders—clap, shout, stand, pat your knees—and 2500 men and women obeyed his commands. I myself declined to take part, but the elderly woman beside me, with shining eyes, followed every movement as though she had been waiting eighty years for instructions. She would have stood on her head if they asked.

Asserting one's individuality by opting out of a sing-along! What an independent spirit! Surely he will pay for his refusal to join the notorious herd that is the audience at the Syndey Opera House.

I'm a loner myself, but I know when my habits are being flattered. Anybody who feels superior to a grandmother enjoying herself needs different role models for his self-comparison.

Sandall goes on to repeat some obvious individualist errors, blaming collectives for error but finding truth in the solitary refusenik. He claims rational thinking is an individual activity, with little recognition of its inevitably contingent social character. He praises the leader, with little awareness that leadership presupposes a group to lead; it is also, like rationality and irrationality, learned in groups.

Arts and Letters Daily needs to find some better material, or I'll have to find a better aggregator for essays of intellectual interest.