I think individuals, institutions, communities don’t always or even often just defend their particular self-interest. I don’t think they often accurately understand or clearly express their interests, any more than I believe human psychology or agency is well-described by the sketch version known as homo economicus. I think political agency, whether expressed narrowly in the drafting of policy or broadly in the mobilization of resources and constituencies, frequently leads to unanticipated or surprising consequences, some unexpectedly good for almost everyone and others terrifyingly destructive even to the agents who initiated a particular course of action. I think it’s intellectually possible and morally desirable to understand people unlike yourself, even people whose aspirations and worldview are genuinely antagonistic to your own. I think totalizing ideologies and totalizing social philosophies are intrinsically ill-suited to explain the human past or set a course for the human future. I think language isn’t just a framing device or an instrumental apparatus for the production of consciousness and subjectivity. I think every imagined alternative to liberalism and modernity ends up reinstating both of them under the table as well as using both of them to generate complaints about their shortcomings.Yeah, pretty much.
20 July 2011
Labels: public interest
Timothy Burke, in the middle of struggling with why we should even talk about politics at all, says a bunch of things I think: