If you really want to understand our current political landscape...

I recommend "taking" this course with Patrick Deneen. He has a deep, historical understanding of the relationships between various strands of our political culture*, and is very balanced (in my readings of him) in giving each strand its "fair shake." I am hoping to follow along as best I can, but so much of my attention is devoted to Indra at present, I am not sure how much of it I will be able to keep up with.

* For instance, he correctly identifies Marx as a progressive liberal, and not an anti-liberal, as many people confusedly categorize him: Marx's aim was liberal through-and-through: the emancipation of the individual. It is just the means he recommended for achieving the aim that differentiate him from other liberals.

8 comments:

  1. Marx? A liberal? Are his followers (i.e., Lenin, Stalin, etc.) liberals as well?

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  2. Actually, I retract that previous question about Marx. I can see how he is indeed for the emancipation of the individual. He even agrees with Locke's labor theory of property. But I still don't think it's right to call him a type of liberal. Do his followers count as liberals?

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    1. You have to make clear if you mean in theory or in practice! Of course, in practice, Lenin and Stalin were not liberals! I don't think Stalin really did much theory, and while Lenin did, I've never read it, so I can't say.

      But Marx is clearly part of the larger liberal movement IMHO (and in Deneen's, and in Voegelin's as well).

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    2. I don't see that as being applicable. For one thing, even if Stalin didn't do any theory, he still had them in his head. Of course, I have my own categorizations, labels, and definitions. They've unfortunately been uprooted ever since my mind went through the libertarian woodchopper, but I still retain them. I'm not in large agreement with the conventional liberal versus socialist line of analysis.

      From what I know about China, they remained Confucian even in the Cultural Revolution. Mao looked to Shang Yang for guidance. North Korea's Niche, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of Marxism.

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    3. "I don't see that as being applicable. For one thing, even if Stalin didn't do any theory, he still had them in his head."

      OK, at this point I have no idea what you are talking about. Are you trying to claim that, because Stalin had "theories in his head," therefore it is pointless to differentiate theory and practice?!

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    4. Are you trying to claim that, because Stalin had "theories in his head," therefore it is pointless to differentiate theory and practice?!

      Not at all! That would be completely idiotic of me! Those are two separate propositions. One, I was trying to say that I don't think dividing a person's politics into theory and practice works. Two, you said that you think Stalin didn't write any theory, implying he wouldn't have a theoretical side. My point there was that I don't think writing theory is necessary to have political theories.

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    5. One, I was trying to say that I don't think dividing a person's politics into theory and practice works."

      So you DON'T think it is useful differentiating them after all!

      "Two, you said that you think Stalin didn't write any theory, implying he wouldn't have a theoretical side."

      No, implying I would not know what theories he held, since he never wrote them down.

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    6. So you DON'T think it is useful differentiating them after all!

      Well, yes. I wasn't trying to deny that. I was denying that I thought that because of what I said about Stalin, since you wove that into your exclaimed question to me.

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