… I guess we might as well discuss this Zizek thingy.

However, even if Lacan’s inversion [If there is no God, then all is forbidden] appears to be an empty paradox, a quick look at our moral landscape confirms that it is a much more appropriate description of the atheist liberal/hedonist behaviour: they dedicate their life to the pursuit of pleasures, but since there is no external authority which would guarantee them personal space for this pursuit, they get entangled in a thick network of self-imposed “Politically Correct” regulations, as if they are answerable to a superego far more severe than that of the traditional morality. They thus become obsessed with the concern that, in pursuing their pleasures, they may violate the space of others, and so regulate their behaviour by adopting detailed prescriptions about how to avoid “harassing” others, along with the no less complex regime of the care-of-the-self (physical fitness, health food, spiritual relaxation, and so on).

Today, nothing is more oppressive and regulated than being a simple hedonist.

This is, I take it, Goldberg’s thesis, minus the Lacan – we’ll see! Namely, the godlessness of liberalism produces an idiot tick-tock between authoritarianism and relativism. The proof: liberal bumper-stickers/slogans oscillate between fatuously broad gestures of total freedom and orthodoxy sniffery re: racism and sexism and a few other things. QED.

I predict it will be at stage two that we discern daylight between the Goldbergian and Zizekian positions: [click to continue…]

The Economist fails the Turing Test again

by Henry Farrell on April 30, 2012

“Five years ago”:https://crookedtimber.org/2007/05/11/rupturerapture/ I linked to a “Bill Emmott column”:http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/bill_emmott/2007/04/not_decline_but_rupture_with_t.html on the impending election of Nicholas Sarkozy thusly:

This unashamed mash note from Bill Emmott, former editor of the Economist presents a class of a triple-distilled tincture of the prevailing globollocks on Sarkozy’s victory in France. You don’t need to read the actual column to get the gist; just the Pavlovian dinner-bell talking points that it strings together.

France … paralyzed by powerful interest groups … political elite … beholden … or … afraid … takes a brave outsider … precisely Sarkozy’s appeal … Reagan or a Thatcher … A “rupture” is what France needs … showing that his country is not doomed to decline … cadres of highly globalized managers … etc … etc

I don’t see the words “tough,” “clear-headed,” or “reform” anywhere, so it isn’t quite the full bob major, but it’s close.

Now, his successor as editor at the _Economist_ “plays the same tune again, but even more crudely”:http://www.economist.com/node/21553446, deploring Sarkozy’s probable successor.

bq. France desperately needs reform .. .neighbours have been undergoing genuine reforms … deep anti-business attitude … proposing not to reform at all … refusal to countenance structural reform of any sort … resistance to change … hostile to change … Until recently, voters in the euro zone seemed to have accepted the idea of austerity and reform. … would undermine Europe’s willingness to pursue the painful reforms it must eventually embrace.

I’ve no idea what Hollande is going to be like (except that he’s certainly going to be disappointing). But I do know that this is one of the most exquisitely refined examples of globollocks that I’ve ever seen. It’s as beautifully resistant to the intellect as an Andropov era _Pravda_ editorial. A few more years of this and the _Economist_ won’t have to have any human editing at all. Even today, I imagine that someone with middling coding skills could patch together a passable Economist-editorial generator with a few days work. Mix in names of countries and people scraped from the political stories sections of Google News, with frequent exhortations for “Reform,” “toughminded reform,” “market-led reform,” “painful reform,” “change,” “serious change,” “rupture,” and 12-15 sentences worth of automagically generated word-salad content, and you’d be there.

I wonder whether even the writer of this editorial would be able to define ‘reform’ or ‘change’ if he were asked, beyond appealing to some sort of ‘social protection bad, market good’ quasi-autonomic reflex embedded deep in his lizard brain. I also wonder whether the people in there are as cynical about their product as Andropov-era journalists were, or whether they actually believe the pabulum they dish out.