‘Committing Sociology’ After Trump’s Election? An Open Letter to the Canadian Sociological Association

Sirs, Madams:

“‘Committing Sociology’ After Trump’s Election” was the provocative title of a session of the Canadian Sociological Association 52nd Annual Conference. Here is the statement of purpose of the session:

The goal of this session is to have a critical discussion of the role sociologists can play in an era dominated by identity politics, the feeling by some people of being ignored or the fear of declining, post-truth, fake news, and the rise of xenophobia, misogyny, and intolerance. […] The goal of the session is to have a dynamic discussion of issues and the roles sociology and sociologists can play in navigating them. It is also to see if a network of sociologists can and should be formed to challenge the rise of non-sociological times.

The language strongly suggests Leftist political commitments on the part of the panelists, and the reference to “an era dominated by identity politics, the feeling by some people of being ignored or the fear of declining, post-truth, fake news, and the rise of xenophobia, misogyny, and intolerance” seems to allude to the rise of the new dissenting Right. What’s really remarkable here, though, is the suggestion that the rise of the new politics of the Right, which found partial expression in the election of Trump, is a harbinger of “non-sociological times”. This idea seems worth discussing at some length.

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Degeneracy in the Age of Enlightenment and Beyond: The Trailblazing Neoreactionary Sociology of John Brown

This very long article, which you can find at Thermidor Magazine, represents at stab at the intellectual project of a “full reboot of the social sciences” associated with the political project of the new Reaction. I propose that this reboot entails overhauling the canon of historical founding figures of the discipline, among which an 18th century English writer by the name of John Brown should be counted. Brown clearly saw, at the very time the present Liberal order was only beginning to really get off the ground, that this order bears within itself an inherent potential to create self-destructive pathology. There is, of course, nothing unusual in this broad claim- but what is interesting is the way Brown makes it. Brown poses the problem of social pathology (“degeneracy”) in terms of a systematic feminization and overall degradation of the governing caste, which if carried far enough is guaranteed to render elites utterly unfit and the State incapable of functioning. In short, Brown looks at social problems of his times exactly the way the new Right does now, and uncovers that much of the pathology of the present was already clearly present in the England of 1757 in an early form. I critique some shortcomings in Brown’s analysis of the etiology of the disease, and go beyond him to discuss what has changed since his day, how, and why. I have brought almost everything I have in my intellectual arsenal to this piece- more accurately, short treatise- and dare say that you won’t have wasted your time by reading it.

Liberty after Liberalism: A Post-Constitutionalist View of Freedom

A certain rear-garde line has it that the new Reactionaries are a lot of totalitarian freedom-hating disciples of Hegel and Mussolini. I contend, against this sophomoric libel, that in reality the new Reaction is in a privileged position to enshrine personal liberty on rock-solid grounds and succeed where the now-discredited Constitutionalist tendency on the old Right failed. The trick, I argue, is to have the right idea of what “liberty” means. We will then be in a position to talk about what must be done to save the many, many virtues of the Anglo-American tradition of individual freedom from its self-defeating vices. Read all about it at Thermidor Magazine.

Liberalism: The God with no Name

Behind all the Liberal hoo-haw celebrating individual autonomy, choice, moral relativism, and atheism, there stands a deontology (and a rigorous one at that) and a corresponding theology. This theology dares not speak its name, nor the name of the God it worships, but it can clearly be seen at work in the discourses and practices of Liberalism if you look at them closely enough. And it turns out, under the microscope, that Liberalism isn’t quite as Liberal as it likes to make itself out to be. This is the subject I wrote about in my latest article for Thermidor Magazine. Check it out…

Materialism, Truth, and Power

Every rational and educated person is supposed to know that that there exists no such thing as God or the soul, because there is no hard scientific proof of their existence, and that everything that does exist reduces to so much physical matter in motion. But this scientifically untestable and unverifiable ontology, which reduces all being to the laws of physics, itself reduces to an underlying substrate of politics. Find out how in my latest article at the excellent Thermidor Magazine.

Some Desultory Remarks on the Concept of “Universal Person”

Critically interrogating anti-identitarian discourses of both the Left and Right, William Scott finds that these discourses vehemently attack affirmations of White identity in the (covert) name of yet another identity, one that, rather curiously, defines itself as an anti-identity, an absence of identity- or more precisely, an absence of positively-definable identity as conceived in traditional, particularistic terms:

This Identity is positive in a way, but it is posited as a negation. It is the rejection of other identities, especially biological identity: race. We should say that the rejection of Ethnic Identity is the foundation of this Ideological Identity. More accurately, Universal Person is the necessary citizen of Universal Democracy. In this way ethnic or competing ideological identities are rejected all at once in order to establish the ideal democratic citizen: the atomized individual with no identity apart from self-interested participation in democratic society.

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Leftism, The Religion that Failed: A Study in Insecure Power and Social Disorganization

Some time during the past ten years, the tendencies to religious enthusiasm that had always been present in the Left all of a sudden broke out as though into a fever. “Political correctness”, a phenomenon hitherto more or less endemic to the University, where it was the preoccupation of a tiny elite of deconstructionist literary critics and the like, became a veritable pandemic of holiness. Out of nowhere, seemingly every half-literate middlebrow with an Internet connection and a social-media account was virtuously and authoritatively exhorting others against the evils of racism, bullying, “homophobia”, and something they always pronounced like “mahsawdgenny”. It wasn’t always clear just what exactly these epithets were supposed to mean, but their incantation soon came to define middle-class respectability in much the same way public religious observance once did; mutatis mutandis, anybody expressing incorrect thoughts and opinions was liable to be stigmatized as though an apostate or heretic from an established public religion.  Read more

Anarcho-Tyranny in Oakland

The legitimacy of public authority in the United States, more than perhaps anywhere in the West, is explicitly predicated on the juridico-political doctrine of social contract most famously exposited by Hobbes, Locke, Blackstone, and other luminaries of the Liberal canon.  According to this theory, by Nature human beings desire the preservation of their own lives above all other things, and can legitimately do whatever it takes to secure their Natural right to self-preservation. In order to secure the preservation of their lives and property against the constant imminent danger each individual life would be exposed to under anarchy, individuals collectively renounce the right to use force on their own behalf, together with the absolute freedom and independence they enjoyed in the speculative pre-social “state of Nature”, in order to found the State. Read more