"Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene" is the title Thomas Sowell used for columns consisting of unconnected observations about this and that. Same. Except in our case we are explicitly coming at it from a vertical perspective. Therefore, the observations aren't from within the scene but from above it. If we may say so oursoph.
It's the difference between being involved in a trainwreck vs. sitting atop a hill and seeing that two trains below are about to collide. You might think that a passenger on one of the trains has more personal information about the wreck. He does, in a way, right up to the moment he perishes in the crash.
As we've suggested before, an eyewitness to the Crucifixion would have more personal information about it than do we. Then again, not. At all, really. Except one of the criminals adjacent to Christ. He gets it.
Just so, politics looks very different from within than it does from above. Metapolitics. I've never used that word before, nor do I recall hearing it used. Is it a thing? Surely it must be, since it has been one of the main preoccupations of the blog lo these fifteen years.
Fifteen years! My son is fifteen. I started blogging when he was six months old. That is a crazy thing to think about. So I won't.
By the way, consider this an open thread with a long addendum. Feel free to ignore the addendum. I'm just typing what comes into my head, which is disrespectful to the reader.
It's just that we're in a kind of Schrödinger's Cosmos moment, aren't we? One way or another, the future is bearing in on us like... like two freight trains on the same track. One of them will crush the other. I just can't make out which one at the moment. My ears tell me one thing, my eyes another.
Back to metapolitcs. An amazon search produces 39 results. Let's have a looksee if no one else is in our tree.
This first book sounds promising: it is "a searing" -- searing, I tell you! -- "critique of liberalism" that "discusses the limits of political philosophy." Uh oh. Postmodern gibberish ahead:
Metapolitics argues that one of the main tasks of contemporary thought is to abolish the idea that politics is merely an object for philosophical reflection. Badiou indicts this approach, which reduces politics to a matter of opinion, thus eliminating any of its truly radical and emancipatory possibilities.
Against this intellectual tradition, Badiou proposes instead the consideration of politics in terms of the production of truth and the affirmation of equality. He demands that the question of a possible “political truth” be separated from any notion of consensus or public opinion, and that political action be rethought in terms of the complex process that binds discussion to decision.
Starting from this analysis, Badiou critically examines the thought of anthropologist and political theorist Sylvain Lazarus, Jacques Rancière’s writings on workers’ history and democratic dissensus, the role of the subject in Althusser, as well as the concept of democracy and the link between truth and justice.
Indict. Emancipatory. Production of truth. Dissensus. These are postmodern dogwhistles one can assemble in any order and get published in a major academic journal. Another reviewer finds
very intriguing the idea that politics needs to work at the level of thinkability and not at the level of material practice. To align politics with thought, he turns to a language of naming, a language that refers not to what things are, but what things could possibly be. Names must be localized within multiplicities. In abstract terms, this makes sense.
Well, if that's case, then stop making sense. This next reviewer makes just as much:
Badiou's work is often both refreshing in its Platonic instance of the reality of abstractions and the importance of ontology of events and truth-procedures, and infuriating in that he often makes bold claims without explicit argumentation using a methodology of suture to lay philosophy out as meta-truth procedure.
We all have our pet peeves. One of mine is people who use a methodology of suture to lay philosophy out as a meta-truth procedure.
Suffice it to say, none of this is in our attractor. Let's move on. The next book is one called Metapolitics: The Roots of the Nazi Mind. It has only one review, but the reviewer is pretty worked up about it. He claims the author is "a polemicist with an extremely conservative cultural, religious and political agenda, smearing with a proto-Nazi tag those aesthetic and cultural movements that he happens to dislike."
Sounds like one of those typical left wingers who doesn't understand that fascism is obviously of the left.
If I were a clinical psychologist, I might suggest to this fellow that polemicism, religiosity, and smearing are indeed going on. They are "present," so to speak, in the space between you and the book. But we need to be patient about their source and vector. So let's just explore them together, and not just assume they're emanating from outside your own mind. (In short, you can't just come out and tell a leftist he's projecting; rather, you have to lead him slowly to this ego- and ideology-shattering insight.)
Now I'm reminded of an old gag. Can't recall who made it -- sounds like Whitehead, or maybe Chesterton -- but it goes something like this: every historian has a bee in his bonnet. When you read his work, listen for the buzzing. The buzzing is his vision, his conception of the whole. His metahistory, you might say.
Why else would he get so worked up about it? We're essentially talking about a religious category, or rather, a naive secular category unreflectively imbued with religious energy.
Here's one called There is No Life without Metapolitics. Couldn't agree more. Life is far too interesting to merely live it. Rather, it must be "meta-lived," as it were. To paraphrase one of our founding Raccoons, Socrates, the anti-meta-life is scarcely worth living.
Anyway, this one is described as a "lined notebook for writing & note taking," and a "funny journal for metapolitics lovers." In other words, it is a potential space for incoming vertical murmurandoms. Like this blog.