So tweets Joshua Cohen (Stanford) about the latest installment in the New York Times's new philosophy blog, Jay Bernstein's "analysis" of the Tea Party movement. (Bernstein is a colleague and former teacher of Simon Critchley [also the New School], and was no doubt invited by Critchley.) Bernstein wants to explain,
the passionate anger of the Tea Party movement, or, the flip-side of that anger, the ease with which it succumbs to the most egregious of fear-mongering falsehoods. What has gripped everyone’s attention is the exorbitant character of the anger Tea Party members express. Where do such anger and such passionate attachment to wildly fantastic beliefs come from?
and although he has presumably read Marx (and Freud), proposes this Hegelian explanation, apparently in seriousness:
My hypothesis is that what all the events precipitating the Tea Party movement share is that they demonstrated, emphatically and unconditionally, the depths of the absolute dependence of us all on government action, and in so doing they undermined the deeply held fiction of individual autonomy and self-sufficiency that are intrinsic parts of Americans’ collective self-understanding.
One hopes even Lukács would be embarrassed. "Armchair bullshit" seems kind (but Josh is a very nice guy).
Now it hasn't been all bad since the sophomoric debut--the blog by Nancy Sherman (Georgetown), for example, was a nice mix of philosophical content and contemporary application (even if the philosophical/interpretive claims are hotly contested). We've also heard from Arthur Danto (doing 'performance art' criticism) and Peter Singer (doing, reasonably enough, what Singer always does). Clearly, though, anyone familiar with contemporary Anglophone and Continental traditions in philosophy will realize how bizarrely unrepresentative this is of philosophy and of its relevance to a host of issues intelligible to the educated lay reader. Perhaps if the Times chose a moderator who knew some philosophy....