I have given a very brief analysis of the dangers of cronyism in a previous post, but I fear that my perspective was too sociological, and thus unable to illuminate the philosophical depths of the phenomenon.
First and foremost I should be read as “accusing” myself of a philosophical vice: the all too easy sliding into a transcendent overviewing subjectivity that intends to understand everything and everybody i.e. to be more conscious than everyone else. However, this stance based on seemingly good intentions translates over time into a form of bad faith and increasing unconsciousness.
Secondly, David Masten hypothesises with me that there may be something in the very conceptuality of a Continental philosopher’s project and in his vocabulary that leads to an extreme filtering of exchanges. If he abstraction of such a philosopher’s style is such that the conceptual edifice absolutely requires not only instantiation or exemplification to make it comprehensible and applicable, but further extension and “supplementation” – then a paradoxical situation is set up, of being faithful to the system by being unfaithful, but not too unfaithful.
Supplementation would then be a gesture towards translation into other philosophical idioms that in fact blocks and refuses the possibility of just such a translation. The result is conceptual confinement inside a noetic ghetto, which may or may not be implemented or concretised in an empirically existing ghetto, in-group, sect, clan, or school. Let us forget the sociological question of cronyism, it is rampant and everyone knows it. That is not the main issue for me, we live in a scarcity economy at every level, even if it is disguised as one of abundance, all that is just business as usual.
More importantly for me, there may be a transcendental cronyism in certain philosophical assemblages. Everyone has read texts by Deleuzians that are composed in large part of a litany of Deleuzian expressions that make no sense outside the particular sufficiency they invoke and stem from. Badiousism too is culpable all too often of favorising the proliferation of such transcendental cronies.
One is reminded of counterparts and of thev possibility of identity across possible worlds. The crony is my counterpart, i.e. myself, in the “atonal” world of democratic materialism. I set out on a voyage that takes me across wild waters and savage badlands, plunge into a chaos of percepts and affects, know the intoxication of conceptual ascent higher than the mountains of madness, sharing each adventue with a kaleidoscope of allies and camarades. One day I wake up surrounded and supported by nondescript friends, defending a colorless and de-vitalised territory from attempted incursions by other such groups. The grey grind of academia imprisons our dreams in meaningless tasks, stifling them slowly.
This happens to all of us, in one way or another, and it is the sign that after a much deserved rest we must set out once again. We encounter a new concept, piece of jargon, diagram or book and we have the energy to set out again, while the crony, our atonal counterpart, stays behind and does the paperwork necessary to make our voyage possible and keep it non-lethal.
Note: I am indebted to a facebook discussion with David Masten, and also with Anthony Paul Smith and Steven Shakespeare, for helping me to elucidate this phenomenon.