Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Justin E.H Smith & studying Sanskrit

Spirituality can be cultivated even by scholars. The study of Sanskrit, because it is the language in which Indic Religions and Yogic traditions are expounded, has enhanced the spiritual power of oppressed people- some, like Aurobindo, incarcerated and in danger of the hangman's noose- to fight for the liberation of their country. On the other hand, some worthless cretins teaching in shite University Departments can claim a credential or two in Sanskrit. But they can't liberate themselves from anything or would lose their jobs if they did overcome their own stupidity.

As a case in point, Justin E.H Smith has a confused post at substack which concludes that 'taking to Twitter to assert one’s antifascist bona-fides is just as futile as studying Sanskrit in resistance to authoritarian communism. Just as futile, and a lot less interesting.' This is a remarkably obtuse statement. Taking to Twitter to denounce a Fascism which does not exist can't be compared to a Chinese scholar who is studying Sanskrit for the purpose of enabling a spiritual and inward resistance to a Communist regime which is genuinely authoritarian and which may be killing off the golden goose of enterprise as more and more young Chinese graduates voice a preference for the safety and prestige of a Civil Service job.

Sanskrit is important not just because of China's Buddhist heritage. The fact is, as Victor Mair has pointed out, Sanskrit literary theory affected the evolution of the Chinese literary language in a manner which altered the ethos of the Mandarin class and directly affected notions of ethical Statecraft and thus challenged the legitimacy of particular styles of exercising power. I may mention the names of scholars like Ji Xianlin who suffered during the Cultural Revolution and the manner in which they were partially rehabilitated once collectivization began to be reversed. Indeed, Chinese Sanskritists cultivated a 'close reading' tradition which fostered a similar 'close reading' of Marx and the discovery that what that Prophet actually said was 'to each according to his contribution'. In other words, pragmatism and 'inner depth' could make a comeback so as to raise up the material standard of living of the people. 

Smith begins his essay by bringing up the murder of Culianu- a crazy Romanian Professor interested in sex magic and other such nonsense- who had replaced and turned against Mircea Eliade- a perverted charlatan. The utterly dotty Wendy Doniger is the current incumbent of the chair those two guys shat upon. 

Smith takes all this very personally. He writes- what interests me is the model Culianu provides of a certain form of life: 

a life spent pretending magical shite aint nonsense but rather deserves 'academic' study. Also, a life spent getting the fuck away from anywhere politics can get you thrown in jail and tortured. 

the life that is political

Culianu was into magical shite- not politics. There may have been a time when some such nutters could get a little money for pretending to fight the regime back home but the truth is the West preferred to build up Ceaucescu who was considered to be relatively independent of the Kremlin. Also he had oil money. Indeed Culianu only started ranting against the Romanian regime after the transition to Democracy. 

 even in its insistence on carving out and preserving a space —you might call it a ‘sacred’ space— for the non-political. 

It wasn't a sacred space at all. It was a batshit crazy magical space. This is like saying Aleister Cowley was creating a space of resistance to Lloyd George and Churchill. 

However much we today dismiss ‘horseshoe’ theories of ideology as a midwit dodge, 

But there was a lot of 'convergence' a la Tinbergen, Galbraith & c. Once China let its private sector burgeon it looked more and more like a Western 'mixed' economy. Romania, in the Nineties, explicitly took the Social Democratic route. As for the far-left or far-right fringes, who gave a fuck whether they were similar or not? The fact is, when the shit hits the fan, the ex-Khalqi in Afghanistan could turn Taliban just as the ex-Baathist in Iraq could turn ISIS. Why dismiss facts which stare us in the face? Did Trotskyites not turn Neo-Con? 

it was a simple and obvious fact that the fascists and the communists made life difficult for many people in the twentieth century in truly convergent ways, that their symbolism, tactics, and even membership were drawn from a common reserve 

This is nonsense. They recruited from different classes though, no doubt, there were some turn-coats.

(King Mihai himself switched sides from the Axis to the Allies only in 1944, participating in a coup against the fascist dictator Antonescu whom he had previously enabled — perhaps this was after suffering a pang of conscience, but surely the king also noticed which way the wind was blowing),

There is no perhaps about it. Horthy too switched sides. 

 and that the most natural and principled expression of protest against either of them was not to express convictions of the opposite kind, but rather to bury your nose in your Sanskrit dictionary and to say to hell with you all.

But, if you could read a Sanskrit dictionary, you might be conscripted into the Indian branch of the Waffen SS or something of that sort. Only being completely useless, kept you safe from being used. Anyway, Culianu mentions the Sanskrit dictionary only so as to pretend that he wasn't paying attention when he attended Communist party meetings and thus should be allowed to emigrate to Amrika where he could eat plenty of pizzas while pretending to be a Warlock. 

Is that, perhaps, what is meant by ‘liberalism’? 

No. Liberalism does not mean being a useless tosser who pretends to know magic. It involves building up Civil Society and seeking to establish countervailing power over arbitrary State actors. 

The freedom to retreat into dusty books, just because they call out to you, and in the service of no cause?

Or the freedom to just masturbate incessantly while staring vacantly at a bowl of oranges. 

 Is this the ‘liberal studies’ that a place like the University of Chicago is supposed to foster, 

No. Chicago was pretending that Eliade, Culianu, Doniger etc. were disciplined scholars as opposed to nutcases pulling sexed up shit out of their arses. 

but that the communist-era University of Bucharest had made impossible with its subordination to party directives?

Whereas Professors at Chicago are subordinate to having to read the dreck their students produce by way of dissertations. Also they have to watch out for Title IX violations. Sad. 

 Or, as the progressive left never tires of insisting, is liberalism, in both its humanistic and its more overtly political inflections, always at best an unwitting toleration of the conditions that lead to fascism, and at worst an active promoter of these conditions? 

If you are not yourself incessantly masturbating while gazing vacantly at a bowl of oranges, is it not the case that you are unwittingly creating the very conditions which force billions of cisgender proletarians to incessantly masturbate while gazing vacantly at a bowl of oranges? Wake up sheeple! We must ban bowls of oranges! How much longer must Fascism triumph by enfeebling cisgender proles through the depletion of their vital bodily fluids? 

And could the porous boundary between the two be any more vividly illustrated than at Chicago, where free-market economists helped to conjure the justification for a repressive right-wing dictatorship in South America,

While it was the Harvard Econ Dept which fucked up Yeltsin's Russia and thus paved the path to Putin. There is no 'porous boundary' between Milton Friedman and Nazism- unless you believe Hitler was a nice  Jewish girl with a degree in Home Economics from Bryn Mawr. 

No doubt, Friedman- but also Stiglitz- was wrong about how different economic policies would affect the political trajectory of far off countries- Chile, Indonesia etc- but that is because Economics, as taught at Uni, is shit which is why Professors there aint billionaires. 

and where a former member of the political wing of the Garda de Fer fostered the sort of scholarly work on yoga and tantric sex that would appear as if custom-designed for Americans shaped by the free-love revolution, soon to be fully marketized, of the 1960s? 

So what? Paul de Man, at Yale, was even worse and, what's more, didn't even have a Degree. 

The Mircea Eliade Chair in Comparative Religion would be filled for many years after its namesake’s death by Wendy Doniger, whose work on the erotic practices of Hindus in centuries past would in turn enflame the anger of the Hindutva fascists in India. 

No. It enflamed the anger of Hindus who had emigrated to America and who had made a lot of money there and who wanted to increase their own power and influence. Back in the Seventies, they found it hilarious that Doniger thought South Indian Brahmin ladies chopped off the heads of their husbands after fucking them. Then they realized they were paying top dollar to send their own daughters to prestigious Universities where they might end up taking a course on Sanskrit mythology and thus be brainwashed into turning into homicidal hippies. 

The bigger problem was that America was a deeply Christian country where, to do well in politics, voters must believe you come from a puritanical religion which forbids sexy shenanigans. In any case, American Hindus don't want to be represented by crazy biddies like Doniger as opposed to successful CEOs like Indra Nooyi. 

As for 'Hindu fascists'- they triumphed in India in 1947. Ten years previously, Govind Vallabh Pant described Gandhi, flatteringly, as the 'Il Duce and Fuhrer of India'. Netaji Bose went one step further and went to meet Hitler and recruited Indian P.O.Ws for the Waffen SS before joining forces with the Japanese in South East Asia. Incidentally, there was an Indian Nazi Party. The crazy Franco-Greek Maths teacher, Savitri Devi, had a marriage of convenience with an Indian astrologer who, after the War, had a cozy relationship with the Congress Party. Moreover, it was Indira who had a strong interest in Tantric bullshit. Foreign Secretary Rasgotra arranged an Occultist Conference for her in the early Eighties. The English poetess, Kathleen Raine, has written a book articulating her own puzzlement at being invited to this bizarre event. The explanation, however, was simple. Mrs G was establishing a dynasty by using black magic of a sort her ancestors pretended to have mastered. That's why the diplomatic colony in New Delhi always had some truly crazy Ambassadors- like Serrano. The truth is Nehru himself had a superstitious side. Indeed, he arranged Dhirendra Bhramacharee to provide 'Yogic therapy', with his dick, for his daughter. This was fine because the Kaula sect was Tantric. They were cool with Eliade and Serrano and Doniger and other such crazies for the same reason that the Narayan Murthy family is cool with Sheldon Pollock's bollocks because Pollock is praising their own hereditary sect and language while shitting on the Hinduism of the vast majority of Indians. 

Smith's magpie mind leads him next to Proust, who died before Communism or Fascism had much salience. 

There are of course many reasons why one might end up learning a bit of Sanskrit.

But Smith won't supply any such reasons. Instead he will mention a guy who didn't learn any Sanskrit at all because he had just gone into a lecture hall to keep warm.

 In Sodome et Gomorrhe, volume 4 of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, we are invited to imagine some ragged man off the quai de la Seine, “pretending to be interested, but only for a material benefit, like those who, at the Collège de France, in the lecture-hall where the professor of Sanskrit speaks without an audience, go to listen to the course, but only in order to keep warm.” As both Culianu and Proust understand, Sanskrit, at least as the preserve of world-renouncing philologists if not as the holy language of Hinduism, is good for a laugh.

This simply isn't true. For Proust 'Sanskrit' would be interchangeable with 'Algebraic Geometry' or some other equally arcane subject beyond the ken of a tramp or a hobo. Culianu, however, could get a job and get paid by pretending to be very good at Sanskrit precisely because it was considered a proper academic subject. Incidentally, Sanskrit is also the language of Buddhist and Jain scholarly commentary and discourse. Moreover, its study, historically, was associated with the growth of Linguistics as an academic research program. 

Smith focuses on the Dreyfus affair as refracted through Proust. The plain facts of the matter are these

1) Because of Napoleonic reforms, 'careers open to talent' etc., the French General staff had a disproportionate number of Jews. This made it more difficult for the Right- Monarchists etc- to capture the Army. Furthermore, the French Army could not have a coherent offensive doctrine which would have involved mobilizing reserves (thus further diluting Right wing domination of the Army) and letting them slow down any enemy advance while using crack regiments to 'frontload' pain on the Germans. Instead you had a crazy 'outrance' theory which involved 'Charge of the Light brigade' type tactics where the flower of the French Army was mown down by second rate German divisions who, however, had longer range guns. Proust may have been an admirer of Ruskin, but he had done military service. The French may talk bollocks but they aint utterly stupid. They knew they were setting themselves up for defeat just because their politics was shit. 

2) The Army itself had only been forced to take action against Dreyfus because of prodding by crazy Catholic 'Socialist' nutters in the Yellow Press who, along with the Papacy, were stupid enough to believe a prankster who claimed to have been a Satanist and to have participated in orgies where Satan himself had turned up in the shape of a piano playing crocodile. In other words, the French had lost what few marbles they possessed. They were batshit crazy though, no doubt, plenty of their politicians were as corrupt as shit. Indeed, only in France could you have a War time Cabinet Minister who continued to get money from the enemy. This is not the tradition of Talleyrand. It is the tradition of being as crazy as a shithouse rat. 

The problem for Proust was that the reality he satirized was crazier than he could comprehend. His reading of Ruskin had sheltered him from the worst of what was happening around him. 

Smith writes- that the Guermantes were

captivated by reminders of their own family’s Germanness, by all of the von particles and Graf titles among their cousins and uncles. This fascination is of course a reflection backwards in time, toward the mythology of the forging of the French national identity out of a Germanic Frankish nobility ruling over Gaulic commoners. 

However, the guy who came up with that theory was of Hungarian descent and his aim was to combat the absolutism of the Sun King. The fact is, Charlus was actually Robert de Montesquiou who knew very well that the French aristocracy was not Frankish. His own family was Gascon. 
What of Proust's Guermantes? What would their family tree look like? Well, assuming they once had Palatine possessions, chances are they acquired them under Louis XIV. Indeed, any Teutonic relatives they might have would be through the infusion of Gallic military blood, not common descent from Charlemagne or Clovis or some shaggy blonde beast further back in time. 

Why in Saki and Proust do we keep coming across so many Grafins? The answer was that Germany was rising economically and it was possible that the German aristocracy- poor and plentiful as it had always been- would provide a sort of reserve breeding stock for a Center-Right aristocracy stretching from England to the Urals- if not farther yet. One other point is that German titles were easy to purchase or marry into. Sadly, the Kaiser didn't get on with his cousin the King Emperor and so Victoria's descendants ended up destroying Europe's Empires and the aristocracies which had served them. This was by no means an inevitable outcome. 

But it is of course difficult not to read it as an anticipation of what’s to come too, of Vichy, of post-war French philosophy’s laundering of Heidegger’s legacy

but Sartre, Derrida etc were laundering Husserl's legacy- Husserl was respected because he started off as a Mathsy guy- and only thus did they run into Heidi who, after all, was a spoiled Catholic and thus, like Schmitt, retained salience in a post-war world where Catholics had to play a key part in keeping the Reds at bay. 
Now, in America, the Catholics provide the Christian Right with intellectual ammunition and, because the Libtards are utterly shit, have taken control of the Commanding Heights of the Judiciary. 

in a European political context where philosophy in Germany itself could no longer be pursued as a distinctly national project, as the unfolding of spirit along national lines. 

There is no point wishing, like Fichte, to be the 'Philosophical' Commissar of a German Army which now drills with not rifles but broom stick handles painted black. Anyway, lots of Germans can now read English and thus have got to know that Philosophy has always been worthless shite. 

There’s definitely a European ‘spirit’ in the Guermantes’ chatter — transnational in its way, but no less chauvinistic for that. Swann the Jew, meanwhile, stands there politely listening to it, unrecognized and dying.

Europe's Empires faced a problem- viz. that of the Anarchist assassin. After the Tzar was killed, the Rooskies decided to double down on Anti-Semitism at precisely the time when the Pope, who had pretty much won the Kulturkampf, thought this a good stick with which to beat the Kaiser and his ship-building Jew (whom the English hated). The notion was that the proles were to be diverted by Jew-baiting so that an accommodation could be made with 'Socialism'. The Dreyfusards were considered to be betraying their own class by sticking up for what after all was a convenient scapegoat. As Caiaphas counsels the Jews in the Bible, 'it is expedient that one man die for the people.'

Swann's tragedy, of course, is not that his classy friends turn their back upon him but that he loved a tart who forced him to lower himself to a bourgeois milieu. In the end, however, both Odette and Madame Verdurin end up marrying into that very class. But, that class was doomed because it was as shit as the French General Staff. The plain fact is that an Army fights better if capable and uncorrupt officers are vindicated while traitors are exposed and put before a firing squad. 

Smith, however, has no use for facts- however plain or obvious. Instead the silly man pretends that dudes of no great intelligence or character or power or influence have a political 'duty' to resist a tyranny which, if it genuinely exist, would kill them without thought or comment. Indeed, this might happen without any provocation simply pour encourager les autres.

There can never be anything more than contextual cues to tell us whether a person’s immersion in books

as opposed to a habit of incessant masturbation while gazing vacantly at a bowl of oranges

 is a cowardly evasion of politics

or a cowardly evasion of masturbating while gazing at a bowl of apples

, or a brave resistance to politics,

or a resistance to cramming pineapples up their rectums

 as I have characterized the ‘force-field’ of Sanskrit with which Culianu equipped himself at meetings of his communist party cell.

There was no such 'force-field'. Culianu joined the Party to get a job. Then he claimed he wasn't a Commie so as to emigrate to America where that job was much better paid. 

In a very interesting recent article, Eskil Elling discusses Thomas Mann’s 1918 book, Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man. The German author had insisted on what he called “the unpoliticizability of the absolute”, and maintained that his task as an author was precisely to orbit around and to approach the absolute.

So what? Keyserling and Tagore and so forth were gassing on in a similar vein. Meanwhile, in 1919, Keynes published 'Economic consequences of the Peace' in which he, very foolishly, claimed America would become a net food importer. England and France would be fed by their colonies. Germany would starve unless it grabbed land to its East. Thus was born the German General Staff's maximal plan. It was they who put Hitler into the Nazi party. However, Weimar was able to borrow more from the Allies than it paid in reparations so, while that Ponzi scheme was running, Hitler's old boss in the Army joined the Social Democrat's paramilitary force. However, as the Great Depression loomed and foreign money dried up, the S.Ds had to surrender to Hindenberg. The only question was whether it would be a General, like Schleicher (Ludendorff was too crazy) or Corporal Hitler who would put the maximal program through. The German voter, thinking like Keynes, had no choice but to back the Army or quietly starve. That's it. That's the whole story. Sausages matter. The 'Absolute' doesn't. 

 This is in part just a grandiose way of expressing what is at least meant to be a compassionate love of humanity. 

as opposed to a querulous lover of reptiles.
Reflections can be read, Elling notes, “as an argument for a kind of radical compassion, an acceptance that real people are rarely ideal political subjects, and that this constitutes not just our deficiency but our most important virtue.”

Why stop there? Why not read Mann as arguing for a radical kind of compassion for the oranges in the bowl which one is staring vacantly at while masturbating incessantly? Is it not the case that this and nothing else constitutes our deficiencies in terms of jizzing as our most important virtue in terms of farting? 

 To this extent, some authors, including Mark Lilla, have taken Mann as anticipating arguments against the contemporary culture of cancellation that dominates social media.

Why not take Mann as anticipating getting jizzed on by dudes who are gazing vacantly at a bowl of oranges? 

It’s worth noting that Mann was not alone in inter-war Germany in his effort to keep politics at a distance; one might also cite 

the vast majority of Germans who weren't involved in politics because they were trying to feed themselves or else get the fuck out of a shithole country. 

the more extreme case of the great poet Stefan George, devotee of Mallarmé,

and Ernst Dowson! George was a Catholic from a mercantile family who could become part of a wider English and French and Italian resistance to Protestant Philistinism as represented by the Kaiser and the rising class of German industrialists. 

 mentor to Hitler’s would-be assassin Claus von Stauffenberg, 

because the dude was a Nazi and George was seen as the prophet of the 'thousand year Reich'. 

and promoter of the school of reiner Ästhetizismus, pure aestheticism, which celebrated a cult of beauty, and particularly of male physical beauty —and more particularly of the male physical beauty of his own followers—, in a way that seemed to some of the Nazis in the 1930s to be in harmony with their own aesthetics.

George did not deny "ancestorship of the new national movement and did not preclude his intellectual cooperation" in 1933. Then the old fool died so some silly folk could pretend he was an anti-Nazi.

 Nazi aesthetics, in turn, was of course both subordinate to and inseparable from their politics.

Rubbish. Aesthetics doesn't matter at all. The Germans believed a strong Army could grab them land and resources from their neighbors. Weapons matter. Sonnets don't. 

 Thus George had them well set up for disappointment when, like some haughty self-contented Charlus, he scoffingly dismissed their overtures and invitations to mobilize his poetry explicitly for the Nazi cause.

The guy was old and died almost immediately. He was honored by the Nazis because he had already helped them not because they thought his decaying carcass could suddenly get rejuvenated and go on to produce wonders.

George’s disdain flowed from his commitment to non-politics, 

Narcissism is not non-politics. Hitler and Stalin and so forth were plenty narcissistic. 

but it had a political impact 

i.e. helped the Nazis. But, if Keynes was right (he wasn't. He was as stupid as shit) what was the alternative for the German people? Starvation? 

because his species of non-politics had appeared outwardly to be so close to the dominant current of political aesthetics. 

But the 'dominant current of political aesthetics' during Weimar was crude Cabaret type agit-prop. It was the fucking Horst Wessel song not some Symbolist sonnet. 

By the 1930s, by contrast, Thomas Mann’s more humanistic and ‘decent’ non-politics had curdled into something that looks a lot like cowardice —

Nonsense. He fled Germany for Switzerland and got a Czech passport as soon as Hitler came to power. In 1939 he fled to America. On the other hand, he had better financial resources and was not wholly  dependent on 'blocked' royalties from Germany. 

 it was not until 19361 

when he got a Czech passport and was thus no longer at risk of deportation to a Nazi Labor Camp

that he first began publicly to acknowledge what could only have been obvious: that the Nazis’ rise was unfortunate, and incompatible with the cultivation of “our most important virtue.” Here, again, one is struck by how differently non-political stances ‘hit’, as they say in social media, depending on nuances of style that it is the purview of aesthetics to isolate and interpret.

Rubbish! Mann didn't matter. The fact is Hitler was doing quite a good job of lifting Germany out of the Depression. Keynes, cretin, that he was admitted that his 'General Theory' would be better applied in Nazi Germany than his own country. The truth is Ohlin had taken down his pants on the reparations question. Wicksell, Hecksher etc had the tools to show that Keynes and the German General Staff were wrong. Germany had a better alternative- indeed, it is the one they have subsequently taken, viz export led growth and ordoliberalism based on a high value adding mittelstand. 

A 'Liberal', to have any impact, should have shown the Germans why Nazi Economics was based on a wholly chimerical and chrematistic model. The other side of the coin was a critique of France's offensive military doctrine. Liberals don't have to be shit if they study Law & Econ and Military strategy and Geopolitics. On the other hand, if they think aesthetics or metaphysics matters then they aint Liberal they iz Libtard. 

This observation will itself ‘hit different’ in the era of social media, which is at bottom an engine for the daily production of new miniature Dreyfus affairs.

No it isn't. It's about funny cat videos. 

 This engine is fueled by the internalized expectation among users that if they do not take a stand on every issue that floats across their screen, this will be a sign, perhaps to themselves but more dangerously to others, that they are as cowardly and craven as the Duc de Guermantes.

Very true. Trump is always waking up in the middle of the night and saying to himself 'I must be less like the Duc de Guermantes and more like Donald Duck.'  before getting busy with mean tweets about Sleepy Joe and Pocahontas.  

In the ‘cringier’ corners of Facebook (this kind of statement is probably too unsophisticated to be given voice on Twitter), you may well see a copypasta’d meme reminding you: “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.”

Why not stand for common sense and tell the psilosophers of the world that they have got shit for brains? What's so difficult about that? 

 But is there any surer sign that you’re “falling for anything” than the fact that you’ve just “stood for something” only in order to escape the vacuum of such a fall? 

The surer sign is telling Smith that vacuums have nothing do with Gravity and hence falling. The stupid fellow thinks that the earth is acting like the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner which sucks you down when slip on a banana peel. 

And isn’t your stance that much more likely to be a vacuous one when you have been incited to take it by an engine that needs people to keep taking stances in order, itself, to keep running?

Fuck off. That engine needs advertising or some other such type of revenue. If funny cat videos drive it, well and good. If crazy pedophiles drive it- by all means let the Police take action.

Under these conditions, it is inevitable that both-sidesism, with all its attractions and dangers, will make a return. 

From where? Fucking your wife in the loo? 

In the twentieth century the position was a liberal one, motivated by a rejection of totalitarian extremes at both ends of the political spectrum. 

Liberal politics is about getting a consensus to improve mechanism design. It is concerned with Law & Econ and O.R and alethic stuff of that sort. It isn't about saying 'boo to Fascism' when there are no Fascists anywhere present. 

For some liberals this was an easy way out of real political commitment,

i.e. saying 'boo to Fascism' while jerking off incessantly as you gaze vacantly at a bowl of oranges.

 while for others, notably Culianu, communism and fascism really were twin menaces, 

where? In Chicago? The only Romanian origin intellectual from there that I've ever met considered African American gangsters to be the biggest menace in the Windy City. I started to get angry but then he changed tack and explained that he considered Indians to be 'Aryans'. We have tight butt-holes. African Americans have got huge dongs which they want to thrust up our tight manginas. Did I perhaps have a dusky friend in London- but a proper West Indian, not a South Indian- who could oblige him in this matter? I was flattered. It is seldom I get mistaken for a worldly souteneur though, till Mum stopped buying my clothes, I spent the mid Seventies and early Eighties got up like a Harlem pimp. 

which in his country’s history really did cross-pollinate in significant and trackable ways.

This was a theory popularized by, ex Indian Army intelligence officer Edward Behr, who said there was a secret deal between the Commies and the Iron Guard in allied camps which resulted in am agreement that those who had not killed Reds could come back and work as thugs for the Communist usurpers. But this had nothing to do with ideology. It was a purely pragmatic deal of a type seen in both East and West Germany. Why not suggest that 'Operation Paperclip' showed that Truman's and Eisenhower's administrations were 'cross-pollinated' in significant and trackable ways with Nazi madness? The fact is guys who are good torturing people, or guys who are good at designing rockets, will get jobs doing exactly that somewhere or other. 

 Today, however, both-sidesism might also be the justified position of any lucid analyst of our new communication technologies,

Smith is not lucid. He is ludicrous. 

 and of the way they structure political debate as an automated process of algorithmic polarization.

Paranoid discourse- like Smith's- is indeed algorithmic. But alethic discourse isn't though, no doubt, some 'data diving' aspects of it may be usefully automated as may 'proof checking' etc. What Smith is talking about is bots triggering the stupid. But once bots are merely triggering bots the thing crashes. In other words, the solution to automated bots is more bots to engage with them and thus make them uneconomic.  Perhaps that is what has happened to Smith's discipline in the Academy. Adding more cretins to the existing pile of cretins renders those cretins harmless to the wider population because they increasingly engage only with each other and thus cancel out as noise. 

 Under these conditions, both-sidesism might well be taken up by someone who is critical of the limits of liberalism,

which are what can be factually known. Open questions in STEM subjects are Liberalism's limits not some shite in the mind of a professional shithead.

 particularly where liberalism militates in favor of unregulated markets,

like prostitution or drugs or the market for Smith type psilosophy. But this isn't liberalism, it is license or simply not giving a fuck

 and who sees our techno-political conjuncture itself precisely as a product of this sort of liberalism.

whereas China's internet model shows us what is the product of authoritarian communism. But this involves no 'both-sidism'. The plain fact is that the Chinese might relax some curbs after realizing that the West gets more innovation without them, while we may pick up one or two Chinese tools to crack down on pedophile rings or terrorist cells etc. That is a purely alethic matter. Liberalism is concerned with being liberal- i.e. generous- which means increasing the size of the cake and sharing it out better while using up less scarce resources. This involves studying Law & Econ and getting 'mechanism design' right with help from STEM subject mavens. The Smiths of the world should be encouraged to go off and quietly masturbate themselves to death while gazing vacantly at a bowl of oranges and muttering 'boo to Fascism.' 

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