September 02, 2004

Give and Take

Response to a response to a blog entry over at Wormtalk and Slugspeak.

Good reading, and pinpoints the cause of much of my frustration with the "Academic Expert" class in the media.

I like Michael's suggestion for disallowing "experts" to slide when they get it wrong. Anyone want to formally establish a "Bonehead Patrol?"

Posted by Big Arm Woman at September 2, 2004 11:04 AM

I knew of Chomsky's unique political writings long before I knew of his earlier fame as a linguist.

Posted by: Tom P. at September 4, 2004 10:34 PM

Mr. Wormtalk says:

"The real, practical praxis (i.e., what academics actually do) always seems to be 'vote the straight democratc-party ticket and donate to various causes.' Nothing wrong with that, but it's a bit of embarrassment for theory, since about 100 million other people in America manage to do the same exact thing without the benefit of the deep theoretical analysis. Old-school cultural materialists (i.e., honest Marxists and 'Old Left' folks), often make younger theory-people profoundly uncomfortable by pointing out that, from a materialist perspective, there's no difference in praxis from the college professor who votes the straight ticket after an exhausting Foucaultian analysis of late-capitalistic discourses and the 92-year-old retired welder who votes the straight ticket because he always has and always will."

I might add that, at least in the old days, a daughter of that welder might be so inspired by a non-academic vision of Christianity that she might join a convent, or go do missionary work: "praxis" that involved true life changes, not just flipping a lever in a voting booth and writing checks. What inspired her to make such a drastic change, and why does the academic approach not do the same?

I can think of ONE self-proclaimed "radical, marginal, subversive" academic who actually made changes to her life, and even then I don't think it involved giving up her tenured faculty apartment in a gorgeous historic house in Cambridge, MA. (I think she also went to spend some time -- not all -- at some intentional community in Virginia.)

I'm not sure if this observation is directly in keeping with your comments about Mr. Wormtalk's column, but it's what jumped out at me.

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