Edward Luce & Political Manichaeism, Philosophical Apprentice comments

Headline:The war for America’s conservative soul

Sub-headline: The leadership crisis afflicting the Republicans is a broader problem across the west

The reader is inclined to muse, or even be mildly amused, over the political theology of the ‘conservative soul’ in America being subject to a ‘war’ from within, it echoes in its own cartoonish way, what my brothers and sisters used to sing about at Youth Night, at the local Baptist Church, in the benighted 1950’s :that standard of America’s ‘Old Time Religion’ of Onward Christian Soldiers. It is suggestive of a mentality and world view popular in American life: the melding of reactionary politics and Fundamentalist Religion. The glaring contradiction of Christ throwing the money changers out of the temple, only sharpens the telling contradiction, that Randians like Paul Ryan now lead the ‘Legitimists Faction’ against the Trump Political Nihilists. The Republicans are destroying themselves from within. Which leads to the question: what ever happened to that expression of solidarity, that acted as a political imperative, used as a rhetorical cudgel by Reagan of the 11th Commandment? never speak ill of another Republican.

What is left out of the thesis that Mr. Luce presents is that of the collapse of the Neo-Liberal policies that came into vogue in the Thatcher/Reagan era, and then were codified under New Democrat Bill Clinton, that have had catastrophic effects on the American economy. And that the economic collapse of 2008, and the failure to right the economy in the ensuing years, are the proximate cause of the rise of The Rebellion Against the Elites, the favorite  Financial Times cliche, that Trump and his followers embody. But that 2008 Collapse engulfed Europe as well. All this evidence of the collective economic misery remains outside Mr. Luce’s descriptive rhetoric, it being utterly inconvenient to his ‘History Made to Measure’. What the reader gets is tawdry political/theological melodrama, in place of anything resembling actual confrontation with the readily available empirical evidence.

After this protracted exercise in political cliche, Mr. Luce turns his attention to political gossip and pointless speculation, which does offer some meager insights, expressed as possibilities, freighted with Political Manichaeism.

Philosophical Apprentice


My reply:

@camus_deferral @StephenKMackSD

Thank you for your comment. I must say I’m taken aback by your one dimensional view of ‘Mr. Luce  et al’ as some variety of  cynics, who take their responsibility as keepers of  the current Political Orthodoxy as somehow trivial. Or as a costume they don and take off at the end of their work day. Also I’m struck by your highfalutin screen name, that expresses a kind of intellectual/literary sophistication, that looks like a mirage given your nearly trivial reply. Luce and the other apologists for a Capital in its current 1%/99% asymmetry has proven itself untenable. That is understatement. To engage in reductivism that is an explanation for the rise of Trump and the European Populists. The rhetorical monument to Bourgeois Political Respectability that is the Financial Times is not in the least interested in the comments of its readers. But yet the comments section remains, perhaps for the reason that the comments are more informative and insightful than the essays that are commented upon. That being one of the reasons I still subscribe. I will say that a great deal of the time my posted response to FT columnists and editorials is about my own explanation to myself as to the what,why and wherefore of those essays. And also it is an exercise for me in attempting to be succinct about telling a story framed in a polemic style. The Financial Times and its writers consider themselves to be both the authors and guardians of rational civic discourse. Call what is written here by its real name, propaganda.

Reply number 2

@camus_deferral @StephenKMackSD

Thank you for your comment and your armchair psychological analysis. You echo the Freudians of not so many decades ago, who are now out of fashion thanks to many writers and thinkers, like Frederick Cruz.  And his polemics in the New York Review of Books, that  critically examined the claims of  ‘Psychoanalytic Science’ and forced his defenders to a new claim of Psychoanalytic Metaphysics.

I’m 71 so my ‘alienation’ is a fact for many reasons, yet existentially my writing is the ‘cure’ that keeps the prospect of, and even the reality of your proffered ‘paranoia’, at arms length: it is my creative outlet no matter its shortcomings. No matter what these publications and their owners may think of me, and the others who post comments, like yourself, I model myself after Karl Kraus as told  by Paul Reitter, not to speak of my  reading that started in the 1970’s with Wittgenstein’s Vienna, while at university :


Speaking of ‘highfalutin’! The critique of the Popular Press using its articles, editorials and columnists as sources of the ever evolving, mutating Political Orthodoxy was/is the practice of both Kraus and Chomsky.

Best regards from your ‘almost paranoid’


Reply number 3

@RealNga4Life @StephenKMackSD

Thank you for your comment. The political world is complex, and the job of the critic is to examine that complexity to the best of her/his ability. This seems like an elementary point, but is the central to the duty of the critic. So the ‘density’ of my comment tries to tease out of Luce’s reductivism, something like a cogent critical reply. Foucault’s insights were framed by an ideological claim, as far as I can interpret from having read his essay  ‘What is Enlightenment’ and few of the lectures.

Also of great help to me as reader was/is Gary Gutting’s ‘Thinking the Impossible: French Philosophy Since 1960’ and Ferry and Renaut’s ‘French Philosophy of the Sixties, An Essay in Antihumanism’ all the above must confirm your opinion of my Foucauldian ‘density’. See my comments to @camus_deferral. To quote Sammy Davis Jr. I gotta be me!



About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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