[OPE-L] The unfinished work

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Thu Sep 14 2006 - 18:51:42 EDT

I wrote previously:

"I read a great article as a student once by David Selbourne - I think in
the journal Critique - who convinced me of [the superiority of empirical
research over theoreticism]. As far as I know, he's still writing great

I checked through what the iconoclastic Dr Selbourne has been writing
lately, and thought I should perhaps say, for the record, I wouldn't share
his Toryist vision of the "Islamic threat" and so on. That is more a kind of
propaganda. I tend to think, perhaps ideosyncratically, that by the time you
are afraid of a religion and see it as a "world threat", you subscribe to an
idealist theory of history, and show a rather poor understanding of how
human spirituality works in practice, even in spite of religious doctrine.
It's just as crass as people attributing the recent spate of murders in Iraq
simply to "sectarian religious beliefs". Much more is at stake, as should be
obvious from the fact that the different warring groups (with a few dramatic
and tragic exceptions) lived at least relatively peacably together for many
years. Or for another example, can you really explain the fragmentation of
Yugoslavia simply in terms of ethnic animosities? I don't think you can.

As regards Marx's alleged ability to "crush" his opponents, annihilate them
intellectually and so forth, Marcel van der Linden offers some interesting
reflections in one of his earlier short works, for example with reference to
Marx's dealings with Wilhelm Weitling - see: Marcel van der Linden and
Ronald Commers, "Marx en het 'wetenschappelijk socialisme'" [Marx and
'scientific socialism'] [in Dutch]. Antwerpen: Leon Lesoil, 1982. Hope to
get around to translating that into English sometime. Of course, if you have
"crushed" your opponent, you haven't necessarily persuaded him of any better
idea than he had before. Feelings of humiliation about being crushed might
lead only to more hate and animosity, rather than to a triumph of reason and
good sense.

There is a certain tendency in Western thought to regard emotions as
irrational and therefore unreasonable things which should be eliminated from
detached, dispassionate analysis, but emotional responses can in the
relevant context be very "reasonable" - as suggested by the common
observation that somebody "overreacted" or was alternatively "unresponsive"
to an event or situation. Psychologists talk of the "moral emotions" and the
triggering of these emotions involves an inferential process of some kind,
even if subconsciously. Emotions often influence how scholars think, more
than they care to admit.

:-) :'-(


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