Thursday, 7 April 2016

Criticism's Terminus ad Quem

In an essay titled 'To think is to challenge Power', an Indian Professor  writes- 'The love that is indistinguishable from the love for violence in the name of nation-love is a love that can only be defended violently.'

  Is there a thought which corresponds to the sentence quoted above? Does it mean anything? If it is nonsense, does it still count as Foucauldian parrhesia undermining the structures of Power by speaking Truth to it?

   The author says that there is a particular type of love which can only be defended violently. Suppose I love not being beaten to death. Someone starts beating me to death. I can only defend my love for not being beaten to death by shouting for help or using violence against my assailant. Only if no one is willing to come to my assistance- i.e. there is no Rule of Law in the area- is it the case that my love can only defend itself violently.

   What about love-for-violence camouflaging itself as Patriotism or Socialism or zeal for Human Rights? Can such a thing exist?

 No. A guy who loves violence is going to beat up people regardless of their National identity or Socialist credentials.

   People won't be taken in by his protestations of acting under an ideological compulsion. They will say 'you are a hooligan. You love beating people up. We don't believe you are motivated by any abstract ideal. If you really love your country, you will stop beating up your countrymen. We are now going to restrain you and administer anti-psychotics and then psychoanalyze you to determine what is the aetiology of your behavioral disorder'.

In this case 'love-for-violence' is being attacked by psychiatric means. Can it only defend itself violently? No. It can start quoting Heidegger or some other such blathershite. 

Except, not even Heidegger at his most otiose wrote anything quite as meaningless as this-

'The opposite of this love – raging and thriving in the pages of our anti-colonial struggle – is the love that comes from criticism.'

So, kids, what have we learnt today?
The author tells us there are two kinds of love, one which can't exist (because if you love violence you will concentrate on beating up your own neighbors- who are likely to be fellow countrymen- and thus won't be able to deceive anybody, even yourself, that you are doing so out of Patriotism) and another which is the complete opposite of that something which can't exist- viz a love that arises out of 'criticism'. 

Yet, this can't be the case unless 'criticism' has a proven teleology. If it's trajectory is undetermined, or received as such, we can't know that 'love-arising-from-criticism' might not cash out as 'love-for-violence'. Is the author perhaps aware of some knock-down argument such that 'criticism' always has a predictable trajectory? If so, why not apply it to Mathematics and find a proof for P=NP or the Reimann Hypothesis?

The truth is that the author isn't really thinking- he's just scribbling senselessly. He is not challenging Power, rather he incarnates that Stupidity against which the Gods themselves battle in vain. Why does he do so? The answer is he is showing he has achieved a sort of Credentialized power which permits him to write nonsense without risk of getting kicked out of the academy. 

Suppose the author had written a thought-provoking and intelligent piece. His peers would look down on him. 'Just to get published' they'd say to themselves, 'he has to resort to presenting logical arguments and writing cogent sentences just like some faltu Undergraduate.'

The author is described as a 'political science scholar'. Yet he writes this- 
'Criticism is a form of nation-love that allows thinking and dissent against power, for power is far from delivering justice.' Why is this foolish? Well, when a 'Political Science scholar', writing in English, formulates a proposition of the order x allows y then he is saying x is a sufficient condition for y. Yet, unless 'Criticism' has a demonstrable Teleology, it can never be the sufficient condition for anything. How are we to know that the Queitists aren't correct and that 'Resist not Evil' is the Terminus ad Quem for Criticism? Indeed, it may be that at the end of the day, Violence is shown to be the only viable Virtue Ethics.
It might be argued that Criticism as qualified by something else- in this case 'Nation-love'- does indeed have such a terminus. We could have a discussion about the nature of 'Nation Love' and maybe it won't be a complete waste of time. However, the author has told us that anything- including love-for-violence- can camouflage itself as 'Nation-love'. Thus discussing the subject is pointless because human beings have no means of discriminating the genuine article from sociopathic behavior.

The author can pride himself on having disposed off the Public Justification Principle as applying to his bromides.
But, the author is now going to do something even more praiseworthy. He is going to show that 'Political Science' is empty.
He does so by making a startling claim-
'The only moral legitimacy the state has comes from its pledge to impart justice.' 
States come into being for purposes of mutual defense or aggression. If no such external threat exists, there is no need for States because Schelling focal 'Judges' can solve the underlying co-ordination problem.
The author, writing without thinking, has just outed himself as an extreme Libertarian!

The author praises Ambedkar but does not understand why the Indian Constitution invoked autocthony- i.e. the doctrine that all laws arise from the soil- on the Irish pattern. 
Ambedkar's purpose was simple. He wanted fools to stop saying things like this- 'Ironically, however, some of our laws are still dragging on since colonial times, and even by logic, we can see they are of no help as they are as opposed to our finding justice now as they were then. In a bizarre twist of historical fate, we are still facing and fighting the vestiges of colonial rule through its extending laws.'

Kudos to the author! He has managed to proclaim an extreme right wing Libertarianism and calumny Ambedkar's legacy all in the space of a short essay for the Wire!

Bravo! What's next? Will he clamor for the revival of Suttee?

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