Illiberal Liberalism

by dloughin

Via this David Sessions piece in Patrol Mag on how American cultural critics are (mis)handling European sources:

What are they so afraid of? If Anglo-American political theory and liberal-capitalist political systems are so superior, then what do they have to fear from a few fringe theorists writing books? While I understand the entertainment value of a withering takedown, I will never understand the desire to finger-wag ideas off the stage before the fight can even begin. One doesn’t have to be at all radical to respect and welcome a good-faith conflict between ideas, and to believe that engaging even the ones that creep you out can’t help but improve your own. (As Stephen Metcalf put it responding to the Romano travesty, “I never thought the answer to illiberalism was more illiberalism.”)

The notion that “responsible politics” have to be protected from dangerous intellectuals is itself an ideological danger, one that risks excusing the enormous, ongoing, and entirely preventable crimes of our political system. It’s precisely this unquestionable ideology of inevitability and givenness that people like Badiou and Žižek are attempting to unsettle, and the reason I suspect they inspire such anti-intellectual reaction.