The Dartmouth Observer
Sunday, October 13, 2002
Political Liberalism and a Restatement of the Theory of Race
Tim Walligore writes: "Nietzschean in its methodology, Marxist in its ontology, and Foucaultian in its analysis." What does that mean?? Please enlighten those of us who don't know what these philosophers believe, or those of us who think your knowledge of Nietzsche, Foucault, and Marx come from ignorance (I don't know what you're saying, and I suspect you do not either if you cannot explain how it makes any sense to talk about picking and choosing different philosopher's 'methodology' and ontology')"
When I was writing this post, I found it quite simple. Nietzschean methodology refers to Nietzsche’s idea of the ubermensch (over-man) leading the herd trapped in their slave mentality to something better. Marxist ontology refers to the way the see the world organized: in large groups of people: classes, races, genders, et al. Foucaultidian analysis refers to the theoretical tools used to analyze the world (the world is represented by the word "ontology"; analysis refers to one's epistemology). Their analytic tools consist of the idea of structures of power and domination. Power is the concept that links all of the philosophic worldviews: Marx, Foucault, and Nietzsche.
I also would to clear up some confusion: I am not a 'conservative'. If one were to limit my thoughts to a political spectrum, which I do not try to do other than for taxonomic purposes, I would fall in the center-right. What does that mean? That means I highly sympathize with the values of right: capitalism, freedom, and individuality, et al. tempered by a leftist critique of the excessiveness of those values. Too much freedom, too much individualism, too much capitalism is bad; a center-rightist is, at best, a hesitant capitalist et al. Leftist ideas of equality, social harmony, and community also fit into my framework and temper any dogmatism that I might have, though I allot them a lower value than those values of the right.
Postmodernism is perhaps a useful tool in moderation. Critical theory, a part of academic postmodernism, is useful in analyzing how we say what we say. Thus, when one speaks of 'simplistic binaries' one could actually be on to something. Critical theory allows one to account for more complexity and thus form better theories and explanation of how the world works. Postmodernism outlives its usefulness when it is applied to the substance rather the structure of the debate. I will, then, take this moment to reiterate my theory of race: it is not primarily a sociological nor social phenomena; it is psychological in its essence and has, as a psychological tool, outlived its usefulness. If we are to be responsible academicians and public intellectuals, we must advance the idea of the post-race world. Just as race was invented so it must transcended.
Thus my critique of 'progressive' politics becomes more evident: in so far as it promotes the primacy of race (or any group) over the individual it has engage in treason against the ideas and values embedded in our regime and is, at best, problematic, and ultimately, fatal. Any honest and proper analysis of the economic, social and cultural realms will led the honest seeker of truth to realize that race is an undesirable psychological construct, and not at all an adequate casual factor in the American experience any longer. Focus on race is not at all progressive and has the philosophical effect of promoting the ideas of the original post-Reconstruction segregationist and validating the rhetoric employed by that wretched pantheon of Southern governors that fought de-segregation. This is the idea that I, and my honest friends, gave to the New York Times reporter who visited on Thursday and Friday and advocate to the administration today. Viva la Resistance!