I saw a lecture by (charming, charismatic, funny) Brown professor of Africana studies Tricia Rose last night, and it was a reminder how ludicrous the task is that the “bleeding-heart libertarians” have set for themselves in wanting to incorporate “social justice” into the heart of libertarian thinking (or in Matt Zwolinski’s revisionist account, in arguing social justice has always been a major component of classical liberal thinking).
This (mostly white, fairly moderate-seeming, very Brown University) audience was surely the kind of crowd that routinely deploys the language of social justice – and Rose deploys it in friendly, happy, anecdotal, non-threatening terms that would likely seem palatable to your average talk show audience (she has written two books on the philosophy behind hiphop).
Yet it seemed to boil down to (or rather be a taken-for-granted synonym for) talk of wealth redistribution, fighting to preserve big-government programs like Obamacare, and, even more creepily, encouragement of people like the school teacher who says he is looking forward to teaching ninth-graders to be social justice activists themselves. Why, that’s just bound to mean a more libertarian society, right?
Perhaps the most condescending and authoritarian bit, though, was when Rose had the whole audience raise their right hands to recite a long, long pledge she had written about how to work toward social justice without blaming yourself for society’s past sins – and she had people begin pledging and reciting before telling them what they would be swearing to. Sign this social contract and read it later, as it were – likely a pretty good indication of how much she (happily, cheerily, positively) thinks we can all trust her judgment. I’m sure students love her.
These are our philosophical kin, Zwolinski (and Tomasi and Levy)? But not those awful moderate Republican types who talk about markets and individualism all the time, of course. Well, you go to the family reunion next time, then, because I don’t have the patience for it anymore. Nor for any further BHL nonsense.
If you treasure your status as intellectuals as much as you seem to, there comes a time to admit you’re wrong, and it would be impressive and admirable for the BHL faction to do so immediately after the release of the liberal-tarian manifesto Free Market Fairness. Indeed, they are plainly morally obligated to do so, as, all joking aside, they are attempting to dilute the one philosophy that can save this society by transmuting it into the very philosophy that is rapidly destroying society, on campus and in Washington, DC.
There is not some aspect of this that their opponents “don’t get,” “need to study more,” or are “resisting.” BHL is false and destructive, and, as usual, I have been entirely too kind in my criticisms. I will not continue to be if they persist in this self-indulgent,socially destructive, historically-ignorant con game. What they are doing is, in a word, evil. I think they must know it on some level, but they pride themselves on playing this particular philosophical game.
And like all “social justice” activists, they gaze into their own hearts and see compassion and warmth there, so how could they be the villains? (C’mon, man, relax, play along, befriend the left, turn off your mind, embrace the Rawlsians and the hippies, it won’t hurt, aside from destroying capitalism...)
On a brighter note, all manner of celebrations occur this weekend.
Tonight, there’s the release party for the documentary Revisionaries about political battles over textbook contents. Tomorrow, of course, is Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday – and a release party for leftist conspiracy theorist Sander Hicks’ new book, Slingshot to the Juggernaut, which the Queen will probably never read. Sunday is Earth Day, if people still care.
But what really makes me happy – and indeed, makes me feel even more like I’ve returned to my Gen X youth than hearing a Brown professor lecture does – is the news that May 5 brings a celebration of a different kind, the induction of new bands into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and I see this year brings Gen X favorites Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Beastie Boys, along with older acts such as Donovan.
But I will defy expectations and instead of linking to videos by those bands link to another new inductee, Faces. There is a Gen X angle here, though: It’s very obvious in retrospect how much the Black Crowes were influenced by this band, so in a sense you were listening to more Rod Stewart in the 90s than you realized.