(Crossposted here and here as well)
Andrew Norton, you are an intellectual peanut, and not even the yummy kind baked in wasabi that I buy as a treat. You are just the run-of-the-mill peanut that should’ve be been blended with vegetable oil and turned into Savings-brand peanut butter and which can only be bought in discounted ‘family’-size portions.
He is my list of your stupidities derived from your blog post:
1) a) Lucy and Mickler define democracy as an ‘idea’ and not a political institution. Can you comprehend this? If you actually have the book, then read
b) They argue that ‘teh Conservative Right’ always attempts to conflate this idea of democracy with a particular political institution.
c) You don’t have to have the intellectual generosity (or maybe capacity?) to even appear as if you understand their point…
d) …So You Write Capitalised Letters To Make Some Vague Point About What You Think ‘most people’ Would Recognise As Democracy, Or As You Write, “something everyone believes to be A Good Thing”. From my interpretation of your half-arsed commentary it appears as if you are saying the democracy resides in the political institutions of representative government (but it isn’t clear what you actually think or are arguing), which is precisely what Lucy and Mickler argue teh Right would say!!!! You are agreeing with them!?!?!!?
Fallacy number one: you do not speak for ‘most people’ and your voice is not the voice of ‘common sense’. Get over it. Speaking as some imaginary voice of common sense may make you feel better but it actually makes you look like someone who doesn’t think for himself. Surely you can think for yourself, so why write in such an unthinking popularist way? You deploy this rhetorical trick in your (non)argument to make it appear as if you are saying something that everyone would agree with when at the very least you are not saying anything, or at worst and more likely you are actually agreeing with those you are allegedly arguing against!!
(Some more complex points for those who actually want to engage with the intellectual argument which you may or may not agree with: 1)a) Democracy is not so much an ‘idea’ either but an event in the specific sense that Derrida uses the term (different from other philosophers although similar to Deleuze’s ‘pure event’). There is always a residual — a remainder — whenever ‘democracy’ as an event is enacted. It is this kernel that forces the entire democratic project to reimagine itself so it can become more democratic. This is why democracy is forever an unfinished work in progress (yes, PROGRESS, REMEMBER WHAT THAT IS?). b) Just as there is a conservative Right there is also a conservative Left (trade unions, etc). For their respective followers they work in an attempt to distribute resources unequally through political institutions. The very political institutions themselves favour this asymmetrical distributiuon, hence the ‘democratic’ institutions are essentially anti-democratic; they forever and continually reduce the multiplicity of the event of ‘democracy’ to some easily managed ‘politics of the image’ or what is worse an ‘image of politics’.)
2)a) Team America was a shit movie. The satire was obvious. However, the ambiguity of well written satire sometimes fools people. You were fooled by Lucy and Mickler’s comments about Team America. It was a warning to help guide readers through the rest of the book.
b) It was also a trap to trip up their enemies who would read the book either with no intellectual humour or a willed stupidity. Ok, is Miranda Devine actually a satirist? Think about it…
c) Yes, humanities academics write playful arguments, most of the time they are not playing with words, but playing with the stupidity of some readers by using words.
3) Yes, the point of p.58 undermines their entire argument. Andrew Norton, you must be a genius… to have found a single point that simply undermines an entire argument written by two established academics. Now, I ask myself the question, is Andrew Norton actually a genius to have found such an obvious and fatal flaw in an argument or does he suffer from such a dire intellectual poverty and he cannot understand the argument to such a degree that he believes that a single point will actually undermine their entire argument? Of course, he speaks in the voice of ‘most people’ and ‘most people’ in this world are clearly geniuses. Well done! (Wow, I am getting the hang on teh Right’s mode of rhetoric!)
(Again some more complex points: teh conservative Right has to deploy a multiplicity of operators to counter ‘democracy’ in action and reduce it to the easily managed images we are used to seeing in ‘politics’. The various commentators that Lucy and Mickler have singled out all participate in this project in DIFFERENT ways. There is no single argument or position of teh Right. Their anti-democratic hegemonic project is being fought on a number of fronts. That is why speaking in terms of teh Right and teh Left is another (albeit sometimes necessary) stupidity, because it already reduces a multiplicity of positions to two easily managed images of politics… Who is getting this yet?)
Most of what I posted on Larvatus Prodeo:
“Glen sure knocked that Andrew Norton fellow to the mat, and he deserved it! Anyways, I think itâ€™s really important to go into bat for people who are willing to use Derridian concepts in a public forum, so here goes. I havenâ€™t read â€œWar on Democracyâ€, but the idea of a democracy that is yet to arrive is among the most important concepts in current circulation: it demands an ethical orientation towards the world and allows us to maintain a concept of progress without lapsing into the illusion of â€˜arrivalâ€™.
Imagining democracy as fully established within a set of already existing institutions is a classic large-L Liberal argument, which is also deployed as an alibi for the conservative orientation of that party. It positions us all on the â€˜back footâ€™ – against change, against the emergence of new social and political entities, against any demands for social justice. What is most frustrating about this position, however, is itâ€™s non-correspendence with the economic policy that it shares a bed with, because neoliberalism splashes acid onto our social world. So on the one hand we see our lives transmogrified by the new demands of capital, and on the other we are not allowed to alter our institutions to address those changes.”
I’ve been reading over your contributions to the post at Larvatus Prodeo, and I have to say, you’re a fuckin’ riot! This line in particular gets me everytime I re-read it: “P.58 is obviously the crux of the entire universe, so Andrew Norton should not be so modest.”
adam, that is expressed better than I ever could! fuck i am jealous!
rob, critique and satire! two sides of the same coin.
I left out the bit where I dissed Jason Soon, but I figured it was Prodeo-specific.
I think it was Tim Rayner who taught me the later Derrida stuff, so if I happen to understand it’s implications at all, it’s definitely his doing.
I had a flick through “the war on democracy” and don’t mind admitting that I was having trouble figuring out where Lucy & Mickler were coming from, what their boggle was, and what they might be hoping to achieve (presuming something more than simply filthy lucre, fame, and the provision of entertainment and amusement.)
Then my browsing stumbled (a fair way into the shock and awe campaign if memory serves me correctly. Heck, it was xmas day after all, so don’t put too many demands on me …) at last upon a clear definition and commitment by the authors to a term. “Democracy”.
I don’t mind admitting that their definition actually left me confused because in fact all they seemed to have done is describe common democracy (that surely we all know and understand) in its action/practice/application yet while doing so, attempted to make it sound somehow at odds with the common usage and understanding of the term when it is used as a label.
A re-reading of the book’s main title helped put it all back into perspective again, with an obvious shift in who might actually want to be in “Team Oz” (f*** yeah! ).
I don’t have a problem that Democracy with a capital D is a simple off-the-shelf fully-formed batteries-not-included product that has as a vital natural part of its internals and operating procedures and other minutia, aspects that are still ideas and ideals yet unfinished (etc).
Plenty of scope in that machine to deal with all that and more without having to worry about Lefts, Rights, or inbetweens.
Anyway, after another flick back to the introduction and then a few minutes of pondering and digestion whilst nibbling chocolate and listening to flowing water, I decided that “tilting at windmills” would be the most apt label to file “the war …” under for now. I did enjoy much of the imagery mind you, and it is all fun until someone loses an eye …
Comments are closed.