Tag Archives: Individualism

Mark Lilla and the crisis of liberalism

Samuel Moyn, Boston Review, 27 February 2018

Lilla - The Once and Future LiberalFor an author known for much of his career as a scourge of the left, Lilla’s reliance on Karl Marx to drive his argument is curious. Over the course of the short text, he makes not one but two section-length shout-outs to Marx—and they are utterly pivotal. Lilla appeals to ‘material conditions’ to explain what politics are plausible in any particular time period and—above all—how it was that progressives drifted into an unholy alliance with the right they were supposed to be fighting. Too bad Lilla does not follow through on that insight. If he did so, we would have more of the explanation we need, and the story of what happened between 1968 and Trump would be about economics and politics, and not solely about culture.

‘If an ideology endures,’

Lilla explains,

‘this means it is capturing something important in social reality.’

And in Lilla’s story, it was no accident that the left embraced an individualism—embarking on searches for meaning and obsessed with their personal identities—that atomized the country at the same time that the right championed a parallel economic libertarianism. Identity politics is ‘Reaganism for lefties,’ Lilla says, just with self-absorption rather than self-interest as the rationale. Beaten in their initial demands for a collective justice beyond the limits of the old welfare state, refugees from the 1960s took over the English departments and taught their students not communitarian politics but wounded narcissism.

Lilla is right that material conditions strongly affect the imaginations of reformers, even if they do not determine it. Marx made that point most famously, but it is the common coin of all who believe that no one makes history under circumstances of their own choosing. And we are living in times that force a new acceptance of this truth, even if we conclude that the imagination counts alongside interests (indeed, helps define interests) in the making of social reality. Our economically neoliberal age has shaped many of the most exciting causes progressives have embraced in recent decades, helping to tilt them in an individualist and meritocratic direction. These range from an affirmative action that has tended to help the best-off African Americans (along with recent immigrants and their children who fit the terms of the programs); to a feminism that honors the shattering of glass ceilings for elites but not the stagnation of the lives of middle-class and poor women; to an LGBTQ politics that lifted centuries of opprobrium by appealing to the libertarian instincts of constitutional judges.

Rorty.jpg

Richard McKay Rorty

Indeed, Lilla’s feints toward a politics of economic interests distinguish The Once and Future Liberal from other once-famous analyses and indictments of atomistic fracture and the ‘disuniting of America,’ of identity politics and liberal racism, ranging from Tocqueville himself to Daniel Rodgers or Richard Rorty or Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. But Lilla’s overall story of the United States and the Democratic Party is still far too much about the superstructure (in the relevant terminology). It needs more attention to the base. More importantly, it is too much about the wrong reformers, focusing on the New Left in humanities departments and omitting the actual governmental and party policies that have mattered most. Lilla intuits the limits of his culturalist analysis of narcissism, but he discards his newfound acknowledgment that structural forces matter.

Read the full article in the Boston Review,

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Related

  1. Mark Lilla on Identity Politics
  2. The Once and Future Liberal by Mark Lilla
  3. Mark Lilla – The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics
  4. On Mark Lillas critique of identity politics
  5. The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics by Mark Lilla
  6. The Once and Future Mark Lilla
  7. Censorship and the Liberal Arts
  8. Liberal identity politics
  9. Up for debate – The New Inquiry
  10. Chris Hedges and Identity Politics
  11. Chua, “Political Tribes”

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Filed under Economical affairs, Lifestyle, Political affairs, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs, Social affairs, Welfare matters

Evil wins when the good does not act.

‘Level 4’ is now a concept
The attacks in Brussels on 22 March were nothing short of vile. It was a tragedy, a disaster that everyone experienced as totally reprehensible. Everyone, in their anger and desperation, was looking for words they could not find. At the same time to remain silent or do nothing was not an option. Thousands gathered in squares and other public places. They marched in silence, sang, wrote things down, burned candles or laid down flowers. One did not want to give in but give a clear sign.

This happening between people surpassed us.
When language is not available, we reach out for symbols. A symbol can express without words the indignation, sadness and compassion that lives within us . A symbol is more however than just a ‘sign’.

“The symbols we use are real , in the sense that they work and do not fail their effect“,

wrote Han Fortmann once. A society that is criticised for being individualistic, experienced a kind of renaissance of ‘shared values’ on the 22nd of March in its solidarity with the victims and in its compassion with the families. This rebirth did however not remove the calamity that happened to us.

It put things in a perspective.
If terror seeks destruction and chaos , at the same time it creates its opposites. In tears, but through the madness it mobilised citizens who chanted:

We are not afraid!”

The rubble of destruction had to make place for defiance, while chaos was immediately transformed into solidarity, togetherness and commitment.

“To cry is the first prophetic deed in human history. Only when we have the capacity to cry with others, in compassion, can we change the culture of death into a culture of life”.

BzN-Mov Without a Name-Logo_EN– Hyun Kyung Chung

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Previous articles

Just be yourself…

From Guestwriters 2015 in review

Christians at War? Christians using violence?

Before you blame All Muslims for the terrorist attack in Paris

Paris, in Retrospect

Tears for Belgium

Bruxelles Ma Belle

A darker and stranger place

Il terrorismo è l’urlo di un bambino al buio

Bringers of agony, Trained in Belgium and Syria

A charter for a truly free world and why we need it

Dutch version / Nederlandse versie: Kwaad wint als goed niets doet

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Additional reading

  1. A world in denial
  2. Christian fundamentalism as dangerous as Muslim fundamentalism
  3. Public not informed enough about Jihad terrorism in Belgium
  4. Summary for the year 2015 #1 Threat and fear
  5. 2015 Human rights
  6. Brussels’ Jewish Museum re-opened on Sunday
  7. Brussels-born Salah Abdeslam key suspect Paris terrorist attacks
  8. Daesh hits heart of Europe
  9. A Black day for Belgium – Brussels Airport ravage
  10. Knife-trust in democratic sore back
  11. Tears for Belgium
  12. Reaction from U.S.A. President Barack Obama
  13. De getuigen bij Pauw zijn bekende uit dezelfde hoek
  14. What Associated Press released on Wednesday 23 March 2016
  15. Iranian media implicitly accuse Erdogan to have known of the Bruxelles’s attacks in advance
  16. Hard questions
  17. Terrorist attacks in brussels
  18. Social media, sympathy & shocks
  19. Belgian Muslims Refusing to Aid Police in Finding Terrorists
  20. Europe unites to defeat terror
  21. Silence, devotion, Salafists, quietists, weaponry, bombings, books, writers and terrorists
  22. Internet meeting 2016 March 30, Tuesday
  23. Is God behind all suffering here on earth

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Further reading

  1. Conflict, Attack and Situations That Seem Impossible to Overcome
  2. How to face new waves of terrorism
  3. Muslim Options in the West
  4. Islamic State committing genocide against Yazidis: U.N.
  5. Terror
  6. U.S. officials say American Muslims do report extremist threats
  7. ISIS working to send operatives to the West for further attacks: US spy chief
  8. Right-wing homegrown extremism continues to be ignored
  9. The Danger Of “Right-Wing Extremists”
  10. Because “you can’t handle the truth..”
  11. The good the bad and the unsettling
  12. “Bad as it is that President Obama refuses to use the words “Islamist terror,” it’s far worse that he’s put blinders on everyone who’s supposed to be keeping America safe”
  13. Killing of Two Police Officers in Paris a ‘Terrorist Act’, President Hollande Says
  14. French police alerted to possible arrival of extremist fighters
  15. In Brussels police arrest 12 ‘plotting to attack during Belgium-Ireland match’
  16. Belgian authorities charge 3 in major anti-terror raid
  17. What in the world?
  18. Citizen With Firearm Stops Muslim Terrorist
  19. How To Stop Most Homegrown Terrorists—-Shutdown The FBI Sting Operations | David Stockman’s Contra Corner
  20. CIA Chief: ISIS Still a Threat
  21. G. Edward Griffin: This Story Could Be the Smoking Gun For All False-Flag Ops :: The Last Great Stand
  22. A Week of Terror
  23. War on Terror_ Nothing is as it appears to be
  24. France will see further terror attacks: PM
  25. My terrorists: rich old white guys
  26. Countering Jihad
  27. Not Islamic terror
  28. ISIS killer posts chilling Facebook video after murdering French policeman and wife
  29. Crimes and misdemeanors of Pulse shooting
  30. Not again!!!!
  31. Terrorism too close to home …
  32. American Bataclan?
  33. Orlando Nightclub Shooting: Questions and Anomalies Surround ‘Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History’ « Memory Hole
  34. How America’s Mass Shooters Now Use Weapons of War | Mother Jones
  35. The Orlando massacre: the lies, the exploitation and unasked questions | The Vineyard of the Saker
  36. Flawed, Angry, Grief-Stricken – But We Will Not Succumb to Terror
  37. French police march silently to honor ISIS attack victims
  38. A Distressing Morning
  39. The Orlando Morass
  40. Orlando suspicions: Multiple shooters, multiple ‘motives’ and a siege that just doesn’t add up | Truth and Shadows
  41. Seventy-two killed resisting gun confiscation in Boston! | Fauquier Free Citizen
  42. Orlando ‘Known Wolf’ Watched by FBI, Worked with DHS, Amid Crisis Actors, Drills & CI’s
  43. City Officials Reportedly Won’t Turnover Fire Code Inspection Records For Pulse Nightclub | LawNewz
  44. Orlando attack: Gunman’s ‘struggle with his true sexuality’ could have made him snap
  45. Orlando gunman describes himself as ‘Islamic soldier’ in chilling 911 transcripts
  46. 19 June 2016. A Foreign Response to Orlando
  47. “Gun sales surge among gays, lesbians after Orlando shooting”
  48. Did FBI Informants Assist Mateen in the Orlando Shooting?
  49. Exploiting the Orlando nightmare
  50. Jimm Fallon Addresses Orlando Shootings In ‘Tonight Show’ Monologue
  51. Orlando Shooting: Is God Hate or Love?
  52. Obama’s cerebral reaction to terror tested in Orlando
  53. Pulse Nightclub Shooting Original Tribute Song
  54. Threats against Muslims must stop after Orlando attack: US
  55. Tens of thousands attend Orlando vigil
  56. My Opinion on… Orlando
  57. My Thoughts for Orlando
  58. Thoughts on the latest terror attack
  59. Bubble Explosion: The Orlando Tragedy
  60. Man Who Claims To Be Omar Mateen’s Gay Lover Says The Orlando Shooting Was Revenge, Not Terror
  61. “Gun sales surge among gays, lesbians after Orlando shooting”
  62. Taliban suicide bomber kills at least 14 in Afghan capital
  63. Boko Haram Attacks Force 50,000 to Flee Homes
  64. Suspected Fulani Herdsmen Attacked Ogun State
  65. Millitants Finding their way in Ogun State – Commissioner of Police
  66. Taliban suicide bombing kills 14 Nepalese guards in Kabul
  67. A theory of attacks?
  68. The Outrageous Attack on Conservative Christians After the Orlando Massacre
  69. Still Redacted, Still Deceiving
  70. Zero tolerance for hate speech, says Shanmugam
  71. The eyes of free will
  72. #27 – Hatebreed / Madball / Hate Eternal /Terror
  73. #75: Coward
  74. Conspiracy theorists are harassing the families of women killed in mass shootings
  75. Man arrested at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of terrorism
  76. November lectures in US: How the Mideast will react to the election
  77. 6 troops killed, 14 injured in car bomb attack on Syria border
  78. Terror v Trust
  79. Sharia and Freedom
  80. War and Ignorance
  81. Love breeds Love, so does Hate breeds…
  82. Does one person have control to stop Every bad thing in the world?
  83. Hatred and Division Make Me Sick
  84. Capitulo 4 – Indicios

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Filed under Being and Feeling, Crimes & Atrocities, Headlines - News, Movement Without a Name

Looking at a conservative review of Shop Class As Soul Craft

Some might think we are

“constantly striving to develop lives of meaning without any outside recourse. The soul is increasingly insulated from the world outside our heads.” {Against Kant and Consumerism}

but today lots of people strive to enrich themselves with material wealth and consider their live worthwhile when they can be more wealthier and better showing off than others. Lots of people think they miss enough money or enough gadgets to enjoy fully life. For many everything seems to turn around the gathering of as much money as possible.

Lots of people do not look for the depth of meaning of life and are not so much interested in the others around them and the influence or necessity of them for them.

thisissueappearsThe American Conservative in the May/June 2015 article speaks about Matthew Crawford his books “Shop Class As Soul Craft” plus “The World Beyond Your Head” and looks at ‘the subtitle to his latest book which promises a look at our “age of distraction“.

The article says:

The premise of Crawford’s book is that our distractedness is merely symptomatic of a deeper cultural defect, a misrepresentation of the self that has permeated our society. He traces this back to Enlightenment philosophy, especially the thought of Immanuel Kant. Enlightenment thinkers of the late 17th and 18th centuries presented a view of the person that contrasted drastically with medieval and ancient thought: they put unprecedented emphasis on the rational individual as separate from society or community. They posited new theories about freedom founded upon reason and self-determination, with epistemological roots in ideas such as Descartes’s famous claim that “I think therefore I am.” Kant believed that knowledge and ethics must necessarily be situated within the mind—that existence must be interpreted through the autonomy of the individual.

The writer thinks

The soul is increasingly insulated from the world outside our heads.

Whereas in the real world, Crawford writes,

“we are subject to the heteronomy of things; the hazards of material reality,”

and continues

what Kant has given us is our modern identification of freedom with choice, in which choice is a “pure flashing forth” of the individual will.

that identification of freedom with choice has been there already from the period of the beginning in the Garden of Eden. Man had the choice either to follow his Creator His Will or to go his own way. Man choose the latter.

Thousand of years later, many think the world around them limits them and nature is to  block  their leg.

dumb nature is understood to be threatening to our freedom as rational beings, it becomes attractive to construct a virtual reality that will be less so, a benignly nice [reality] where there is no conflict between self and world

How many people do not want to be on their own and have the world turning around themselves. For many it is most important that everything turns around their own “I” so that they can say with proud: “I am“.

The associate editor of  The American Conservative Gracy Olmstead writes:

Consumer culture tries to destroy the discomforts and imperfections that are necessarily part of life.

Is not there one of the greatest problems of our present society, which has put most of its hopes on the material things it can require to make its own. It is not that they want to hoard things, but they love to gather all the newest things so that they can show off against others who have to do with older things.

Though the writer of the article finds that modern cars are designed in an insulating and distracting way, we more see them as copies of each other not having any more the specific personality or difference as the cars had in the 1950ies, when each car looked so specific and really could get its fans for one or another model and each model with its own flashy personal colours. to us it looks like that car owners lost the interest to have a car or any other object (clothes, houses) that look very personal and have their won story to tell. People do want all the same and are willing to cue for the latest gadget. Everybody else has to be able to see that they have this or that brand and can afford this or that mobile or i-pad, which has to be of the latest and newest ‘invention’.

Concerning the cars we could agree with the idea the  critic has

Everything within a car is constructed to give a sense of isolation and ease.

When the author would mean that the person who is driving the car would like to have the feeling to being his own world, having his own little world where nobody else around is being part of it. When the music can play loud it does not matter that others can hear it in their bathroom or are whipped out of bed. It is there music and everybody else should have to hear that is the best music to listen to.

Naturally the cultivation of “me-worlds” extends beyond auto-mobile design, but form men this might still be the thing to make their ‘me’, though the i-pad has taken a lot of that place.

Olmstead finds that Crawford spends a good deal of the book arguing that an Enlightenment approach to epistemology leads to narcissism: an understanding of the world that revolves entirely around the self and writes

The narcissist “treats objects as props” and struggles to comprehend them as objects with a reality of their own. The fantasy of autonomy, when full-grown, results in a “project of open-ended, ultimately groundless self-making.” {Against Kant and Consumerism}

Interestingly, Crawford identifies our treatment of others as the root of online narcissism in the age of Facebook:

“We increasingly deal with others through representations of them that we have,” he writes. “This results in interactions that are more contained, less open-ended, than a face-to-face encounter or a telephone call, giving us more control.”

Automobiles, the reviewer says

“can foster circumspection—literally, looking around for others and regarding oneself as an object for others in turn—or a collection of atomized me-worlds.” Our experience becomes ever more “mediated by representations, which remove us from whatever situation we inhabit directly, as embodied beings who do things.”

Throughout the ages the world has received its many distractions. The tools may have changed but the aim and way has stayed the same. Today “virtual reality” allows many to find back lost friends or schoolmates and gives the opportunity to interact with more, and more diverse, people, not fewer and not more homogeneous.

For American society to emerge from the distractions of consumer culture and virtual existence

Ms Olmstead finds

we must look beyond the symptoms and consider the disease: the shroud of individualism that prevents us from fully embracing the real world.

The individuals looking for themselves to acquire as much material wealth as possible have to come to see that they would be better to work at their social contacts spending more time to be with each other in real life than in chat sessions, never going deep in a conversation. For sure we we must

cultivate an awareness of—and love for—the world beyond ourselves.

The Edge Foundation / Flickr

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Preceding articles:

Material wealth, Submission and Heaven on earth

Why “Selfishness” Doesn’t Properly Mean Being Shortsighted and Harmful to Others

The I Am to explore

little i

Path/Walk/Sink

Comic: The Last Time I Felt Accepted For Who I Am

Be realistic, do not pretend

The world starts with yourself

Believe in yourself!

Believe in your greatness

Find Inspiration and Follow Your Dreams

Wishy-Washy…

There can only be hope when there is a will to be and say “I am”

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Additional reading:

  1. Souls and Religions with Nirvana and light
  2. For those who make other choices
  3. Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience
  4. Detroit, A city not to be understood

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Filed under Lifestyle, Social affairs, Welfare matters

He who beams never walks in the dark

The Western World has her holy cow : the free market economy. GNP and welfare are its arteries. It is convinced that here, now and immediately, everything always has to go quicker and better, while its adage is one of ‘always more’. The average westerner is chasing his salary, from early morning till late at night. His holy cow has eaten every scrap of him in the meantime. As well as the soil that has produced the animal .
 
That is the problem.

Light beams in smoke02

Light beams in smoke02 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have reached the limit. It is not easy to admit that we have grown crooked towards ourselves, away from the other; alienated from the essential, away from our heart. We are collectively indulging in navel-staring at our individualism, while we are searching  with our remaining energy, for new stimuli that have to give us a feeling that we are still alive. Essentially, we are squeezed dry. Empty. Exhausted. Notwithstanding all our knowledge and abilities, we are like a giant with feet of clay who screams from a deep nostalgia he cannot name.

Nostalgia: the sign of our times
“Homesick”, the English call it, “Sehnsucht” for the Germans. Our heart shouts that is ‘sick’ for its ‘ home’, wants to “come home” and “longs to see”. We are directed by a longing we cannot name, that drives us and of which Zen Master Hisamatsu says :

it rises from the heart of existence itself”.

When we stop making a playground of our life and become aware of our emptiness and longing, a deeper force is released from within us. Against all odds it is experienced as ‘light’. Light without darkness, hope without despair, fullness without emptiness. This light is not only there, but essential. Small and humble, but beaming with life. He who stands in this light, no longer walks in the dark. Never again.

In this time of  Christmas  MWN wants to spread this light. We do this thanks to your support. Your contribution in this sensitive time is for people in need and for us of vital importance. We wish you and your family a Christmas full of light and life.

– The proverbs are the most visible part of MWN. Together they represent a potted philosophy, and a handful of wisdom! Download now!: Proverb of the month.
MWN and URI Europe wish to contribute to a better world in a substantial manner. We want to set an example and have therefore introduced the URI proverbs.

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Dutch version / Nederlandse versie: Wie straalt, loopt nooit in het donker

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Find also:

Searching for fulfillment and meaning through own efforts, facing unsatisfaction and depression

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Filed under Economical affairs, Movement Without a Name, Welfare matters