Bureaucratic Dominance: Christopher Lasch on Controlled Labor (3-Audio)

This video covers chapters 2 and 3 of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism. We explore why the strong narcissist is likely to work their way up the bureaucratic ladder in corporations and government service, and why, since bureaucracy is clearly not efficient, we insist on bureaucratic “rationality.” I also discuss Lasch’s ideas regarding detachment from a sense of time and from immediate experience, which robs people of life, and I introduce Lasch’s views on the origins of all this in the twisted turns of Protestant Christian development in the United States. … More Bureaucratic Dominance: Christopher Lasch on Controlled Labor (3-Audio)

Narcissistic Death Cult: Christopher Lasch’s America (2-Video)

This video reacts to the first chapter of Christopher Lasch’s 1979 book The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations–what does Lasch mean by narcissism, and what does it do to our relationships? In my view, our collective narcissism has created a culture of death, or a societal death cult. Lasch’s ideas are useful for understanding how our economy encourages and feeds off our narcissism and now our turning inwards keeps us from life: being proper spouses, parents, friends, neighbors and citizens. His take on technocracy and its twin vehicles of big government and corporate power is instructive and calls into question our typical distinction between government and business. Both engage in the project of managing us and encouraging our continued narcissism and consequent divisions. Warning of disturbing footage at the end that will make you wonder if anyone ever gets smarter–and I don’t mean the Alabama college students, though they’d also be a good choice. … More Narcissistic Death Cult: Christopher Lasch’s America (2-Video)

We Have an Obligation to Rethink Everything.

We cannot afford to reject an idea just because the “other side” or some “crackpot” happened to talk about it. The old categories are showing just how old they are. Arguably not only the political parties but the country itself is in a crisis that resembles decrepitude, the inability to get bearings, the lack of hope, the lack of even concerted thought and effort. Rome is burning and Nero is fiddling. Under these circumstances, we have an obligation to rethink everything. … More We Have an Obligation to Rethink Everything.

Intersectionality and Identity Politics–Do They Pay? (Mouffe 5-Audio)

Mouffe’s book The Return of the Political puts forward a view of the self and of society that is fractured into many and shifting identities, and she argues that we can find common ground as citizens, not only in an agreement over the rules of the game of democracy, but also in our various experiences of subordination. Mouffe hopes that this possibility will lead to left coalitions that allow citizens in a radical pluralistic democracy to make progress for all (more real liberty and equality). But does this view of the self and of shifting identity groupings actually work at a practical level. Is the focus on even shifting identities as opposed to economic class concerns always a rightward move that has the potential to inspire more conflict rather than cooperation? I evaluate Mouffe’s teaching on intersectionality in light of contemporary Marx-inspired (but not dictated) thinkers like Zizek and Wark. Might we be better off concentrating on all the new ways in which people experience subordination and degradation at the economic level (and the common threat of environmental destruction–a point I hope to bring into upcoming videos)? … More Intersectionality and Identity Politics–Do They Pay? (Mouffe 5-Audio)

Intersectionality and Identity Politics–Do They Pay? (Mouffe 5-Video)

Mouffe’s book The Return of the Political puts forward a view of the self and of society that is fractured into many and shifting identities, and she argues that we can find common ground as citizens, not only in an agreement over the rules of the game of democracy, but also in our various experiences of subordination. Mouffe hopes that this possibility will lead to left coalitions that allow citizens in a radical pluralistic democracy to make progress for all (more real liberty and equality). But does this view of the self and of shifting identity groupings actually work at a practical level. Is the focus on even shifting identities as opposed to economic class concerns always a rightward move that has the potential to inspire more conflict rather than cooperation? I evaluate Mouffe’s teaching on intersectionality in light of contemporary Marx-inspired (but not dictated) thinkers like Zizek and Wark. Might we be better off concentrating on all the new ways in which people experience subordination and degradation at the economic level (and the common threat of environmental destruction–a point I hope to bring into upcoming videos)? … More Intersectionality and Identity Politics–Do They Pay? (Mouffe 5-Video)

Mouffe on Rawls’ Liberal Theory (Audio-4)

In this podcast I discuss Chantal Mouffe’s take on John Rawls’ version of liberal social contract theory. Mouffe is not impressed, ultimately, but she does want to take away the liberal respect for the dignity of the individual while strengthening the person as a citizen, member of community, embedded in the public context. Can she have both–and what dangers do we court when we try to have stronger citizenship and public participation. Can we escape what liberals feared–open conflict–when we try to have stronger democratic participation? The question hasn’t yet been answered by Mouffe, but her critique of Rawls lays the groundwork for her attempt to answer it. … More Mouffe on Rawls’ Liberal Theory (Audio-4)

Superseding Liberalism: Mouffe v. Communitarians (3-Audio)

This video covers chapter 2 of Chantal Mouffe’s The Return of the Political, where we learn how Mouffe agrees with Communitarians on some things, but ultimately wants to move beyond them and keep what is valuable about liberalism. Is Mouffe’s “thin community” good enough? Not sure, but we’ll see as we move through the rest of her argument. Some major Communitarians, Charles Taylor, Alasdaire MacIntyre, and Michael Sandel, are discussed in relation to Mouffe’s views. … More Superseding Liberalism: Mouffe v. Communitarians (3-Audio)

Superseding Liberalism: Mouffe v. Communitarians (3-Video)

This video covers chapter 2 of Chantal Mouffe’s The Return of the Political, where we learn how Mouffe agrees with Communitarians on some things, but ultimately wants to move beyond them and keep what is valuable about liberalism. Is Mouffe’s “thin community” good enough? Not sure, but we’ll see as we move through the rest of her argument. Some major Communitarians, Charles Taylor, Alasdaire MacIntyre, and Michael Sandel, are discussed in relation to Mouffe’s views. … More Superseding Liberalism: Mouffe v. Communitarians (3-Video)

Chantal Mouffe, Carl Schmitt, and the Critique of Enlightenment Liberalism (Video-2)

In this second in a series on Chantal Mouffe’s ideas in The Return of the Political, I discuss her use of Carl Schmitt’s critique of liberalism and relate her ideas to authors she draws from, such as Leo Strauss, Isaiah Berlin, Michael Oakeshott, Charles Taylor, Michael Walzer and Hans Georg Gadamer. I try to get an initial handle on her preferred “agonistic pluralism” as an answer to the question–can we respect particular values and traditions enough to compete with them rather than seeking to destroy them? I relate her line of argument to my understanding of Carl Jung’s theory of political ideology as “ideological possession” — the projection of the shadow. … More Chantal Mouffe, Carl Schmitt, and the Critique of Enlightenment Liberalism (Video-2)

Chantal Mouffe, Carl Schmitt, and the Critique of Enlightenment Liberalism (2-Audio)

In this second in a series on Chantal Mouffe’s ideas in The Return of the Political, I discuss her use of Carl Schmitt’s critique of liberalism and relate her ideas to authors she draws from, such as Leo Strauss, Isaiah Berlin, Michael Oakeshott, Charles Taylor, Michael Walzer and Hans Georg Gadamer. I try to get an initial handle on her preferred “agonistic pluralism” as an answer to the question–can we respect particular values and traditions enough to compete with them rather than seeking to destroy them? I relate her line of argument to my understanding of Carl Jung’s theory of political ideology as “ideological possession” — the projection of the shadow. … More Chantal Mouffe, Carl Schmitt, and the Critique of Enlightenment Liberalism (2-Audio)