PHILOSOPHY IS OFTEN A NASTY BUSINESS

I think too many blog discussions are exercises in consensual cronyism where despite the possibilities of openness very few are welcome to the discussion, and those who try are ignored or banished or scapegoated. The everyday practice of philosophy, even when it keeps up a nice appearance is full of nastiness or what Laruelle calls “harassment”:

philosophy is harassment in thought. Harassing humans with wisdom, happiness, truth, desire, care, or more banally with the critique of representation, of the text, of ideology, is this really very different from harassment by profit and productivity?” (La Lutte et l’Utopie à la fin des temps philosophiques, Paris, Kimé, 2004, p15).

I have in several places discussed the phenomenon of “cronyism” both in the blogosphere and in academia, and I think it is a real barrier to democratic exchange of thought. When I see worried discussions about MOOCs I am surprised at the presupposition that academia is some sort of utopia, when the play for recognition, power and employment leads to some rather contemptible group dynamics, as does the blogosphere.

The sad thing is that on the internet you do not find a utopia, but the same castes and classes and cliques, the same remorseless competition, the same social stratifications as in the rest of the world. Many academics are glad to read and cite Bourdieu, or some other critical thinker, without applying it to themselves and their milieu. The personal has lots of social in it, and “social” means power relations.

My disappointment with blog and interblog philosophical discussion is that it tends to align itself on the academic status and the power relations between participants. So the much lauded democracy of publication made possible by the internet is hindered by the same blindness and hypocrisy and cynical manoeuvring that makes academic publishing not live up to its full potential.

If you wish to contribute to a discussion on a philosophical blog you should trust in advance that you are not an inferior subject, intellectually mediocre and socially insignificant, just because you are not a philosophy professor. Do not be discouraged if you do not meet the welcome and the dialogue you hoped for. Do not stop because of such empty pusillanimous positioning, because individuation trumps credentials and cronyism any day.

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