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CTW: Day 7

Underestimating the people . . .

Published onJul 08, 2020
CTW: Day 7

My comments/questions on the Larry Busk/Julian Semphill “Climate Jacobin” debate:

William Pate (7/7/2020): I think your point about the excising of parts of the demos from democracy in liberal and Left (and the neoliberal thought collective’s) thought is trenchant and on-point. As one long involved in Texas politics, I’ve always assumed there would be an active (and possibly successful) rightwing component/element in any political space. My most recent investigation has included trying to locate a commonality not based on metaphysical, transcendental universals one could appeal to (my history in rhetoric and professional political experience comes out here) in discussions/arguments with a rightwing opponent as justifying attention to collective responsibility and wellbeing. Vulnerability, dependence at birth (most especially), of all beings is the best I’ve come up with yet. Ideas? (And I may be falling into a trap in my thinking here by searching for such a commonality — there may be another, better line of attack I’m not yet familiar with. Interested in hearing those, too. ‘Tis why I’m here.) — Along another line, I wonder if demographics play a role: do left theorists assume that because only 30% of the American (in this case) population are devoted Trump voters/Alex Jones fans, they’ll just fade away or not prove substantial enough to sway “real” democratic deliberations? Had majority ruled post-9/11 in the U.S., most of the Middle East would be glass right now. So, political education + better, more diverse, (possibly smaller?) deliberative spaces? . . . But Margaret Randall demonstrates how even Cuba’s more distributed deliberative spaces don’t necessarily lead to equality and justice for certain sections of the population (noted in your “Climate Jacobin” argument, too) (leading us back to political education . . .)

William (cont’d, 7/8/2020): I think the thing that bothers me about Larry’s position is it falls back into the same elitism as neoliberal thinkers like Hayek, James Buchanan, Milton Friedman, et al. and the 20th century liberal democratic tradition (Arendt) we’ve already criticized. It seems like an attempt to evade engaging in the messiness of politics and actually persuading people our direction is correct. As Julian noted, you have to persuade enough people to give you the power to coerce the world at the very least or your proposal demands some sort of violence and a Pinochet (and we can’t even get Texans to wear face masks). It is an emergency (and it’s clear we’re unprepared for numerous Katrinas or pandemics back-to-back or some combination), but this sounds more like, “I already know better, so why should I bother debating you?” I think it underestimates people. (And, thus, is pessimistic and self-defeating.) It also assumes we’ve reached the pinnacle of intellectual, creative, moral development, I think. (Your argument also assumes an intelligent, compassionate and humble leadership of this Leviathan. That hasn’t been our experience, I don’t think. We have to create a political system that can survive benevolent dictators. And using Cuba as a positive example is a little disingenuous because it’s a nonetheless decentralized deliberative process, which takes too much time, right?)



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