Monday, June 13, 2005

Foucault & Iran:

Interesting article over at on philosopher Michel Foucault and his support of the Iranian revolution. Foucault's position, I think, illustrates the danger of blatant rejection of notions of "rationality," "objective Truth" or "rights" upon which we found public orders.

We can't found public orders on "Revelation"; that produces theocracy and that vision of government was repudiated by our Founding (regardless of what the "Christian Nation" proponents believe). The Enlightenment held that we could found such orders on "Reason" and that produced notions of "unalienable rights," liberal democracy, constitutional government, and sent us on a quest to guarantee liberty & equality for all. Foucault's approach, following Nietzsche seeks to "deconstruct" all of this in favor of...well nothing.

Nietzsche et al., may be correct as to the ultimate nature of reality; I'm not sure if I can "prove" that "unalienable rights" are grounded in human nature, or that any moral axioms are proven or provable for that matter (but I certainly haven't closed my mind to this possibility). But I do know that believing in the Hobbsean/Lockean -- Jeffersonian/Madisonian, "state of nature-unalienable rights," approach gave us a very solid place to found our political orders. And unlike Allan Bloom and Leo Strauss, I do not think that the broad notions of liberty and equality and the focus on commercialism of our founding is "low." I love modern cosmopolitan, capitalistic societies.

Thus, I have no desire to "deconstruct" Enlightenment, rights-based, market-oriented democracies. Because, as Allan Bloom put it, "Once one plunges into the abyss, there is no assurance whatsoever that equality, democracy or socialism will be found on the other side. At very best, self-determination is indeterminate." The Closing of the American Mind, at 154.

1 comment:

Jim said...

From the article: "It's not that radical Islamism is getting a pass from Western progressives and liberals, but it is the case that many are not being critical enough," says Anderson.

And yet Anderson doesn't name names or describe how one is to be properly critical of radical Islam.

The article is interesting, but in its attempt to analogize Foucault's experience with modern day "leftism" it merely offers vacuous generalities.