Wednesday, May 04, 2022


I know people - blessedly few now - who have not held an unfashionable idea in 50 years. That overview has rather obviously never occurred to them, for if it had, they would be shamed at the intellectual vacuity of it and resolve to find something, some small thing they could call independent. In the main, they rebelled against one or both parents in favor of the beliefs of teenage culture before age 15 and have ridden their social skill in reading the times ever since. They assert independence of thought by finding even-cooler pockets of culture amidst the musicians and authors in order to demonstrate that they are not merely members, but important members of the tribe. Yet never once, not even by accident, do they land outside.


Grim said...

There's a high price for it, landing outside.

David Foster said...

Claire Lehmann (publisher of Quillette) critiqued the phrase 'The Current Thing', saying it is just another way of saying the old Marxist claim, "False Consciousness".

Clair if very smart, but I think she's wrong about this one. The People of the Current Thing do not care about the truth-value of what they say, they just want to be in accord with the fashion...whereas 'False Consciousness', I believe, referred to people who are so under the influence of ideology, religion, etc that they actually believe the things referred to.

Grim said...

" under the influence of ideology, religion, etc that they actually believe the things referred to."

It's usually material interest, Marx being a materialist and all that. Your own interests are so tied up with the system that you can't consider a fundamental criticism of it, because if it fell apart you'd lose so much that it's unthinkable that it should be allowed to fall.

False consciousness can be -- usually is -- deployed as a kind of Kafka trap, so that you can't prove that you aren't guilty of it except by accepting the revolutionary criticism that you wanted to reject. Yet there is a core insight there that is fair: it's not hard to see that many government officials -- bureaucrats as well as politicians -- can't consider a fundamental change to our mode of government. They'd lose so much power, wealth, and influence -- and their pensions! To many of them, it really is unthinkable (just as the Marxist claims).

David Foster said...

Grim...years ago, I was at a company management training course at which we had some interesting outside speakers. One of them was a Marxist professor, who proceeded to inform us that our political & philosophical beliefs were determined by our class interests.

I raised my hand and asked him if he had ever considered the possibility that his Marxist beliefs were determined by *his* class interest.

He didn't like that very much.

Grim said...

Good story -- and a good point.