On Being Proper: Why Kos Should Apologize

A thread just appeared on Daily Kos.  I reproduce it in full in the extended entry.

One of the key messages of Crashing the Gate is that the progressive movement's interest groups cannot work against imperfect Democrats if they expect a governing party friendly to its interests.

But that's exactly what the labor unions are doing in IL-08 as they lend support to an independent challenger to Melissa Bean. And Matt Stoller approves:

Apparently unions are backing an independent challenger to right-wing Democrat Melissa Bean.  Her her vote for CAFTA is one of the key drivers.

Key unions in the district--UNITE HERE, SEIU, the Teamsters and the Machinists (to point out the obvious, reps from both labor federations)--are actually lending a hand to Bill Scheurer, the independent who is running for the seat. Says one labor insider: "Scheurer could get at least 4 percent, maybe even ten percent, which would mean Bean is toast."

Good for them. I know there are arguments about a House majority, but it's extraordinarily rare for one seat to really matter in the House. The Democratic Party is the party of working people. Sometimes it's just that simple.

This is extraordinarily stupid. Mind-boggling so. It's rare for one seat to really matter in the House? Sure, but we're 15 seats away and we'll be making gains this November. Enough to take back the House? I'm still skeptical, but regardless, it'll be extraordinarily close. If that one seat costs us the majority and the subpoena power to investigate the Bush Administration's myriad abuses, will it have been worth it?

The unions don't have to support Bean. She hasn't earned that support. But to work to defeat her makes no political sense. Not if the unions want control of the House by the party of the people, rather than the ideologues currently running the country into the ground.

Allow me to begin with the first sentence:

One of the key messages of Crashing the Gate is that the progressive movement's interest groups cannot work against imperfect Democrats if they expect a governing party friendly to its interests.

One must always be incredulous of anything written by an author who engages in that onanistic practice we call autocitation.  And notice how the author cites the text without acknowledging that he is its coauthor.  Authority is attributed to the text, but the bias that invests the text with the status of truth is obfuscated, indeed eclipsed by the tacit attribution of definitiveness to the text and in turn the coauthor.  This, I believe, is dangerous, as the coauthor of the text reifies his status as an expert by referring to a self who is no way announced in the citation.  But this sweeping gesture of self-aggrandizement and of arrogation to self of power and authority begs a few questions.  Who marketed the text aggressively on their blog, forcing the blog's visitors to purchase the text in order to guarantee its national reception?  Who has the definitive interpretation of the text, the reader or the coauthor?  Who attributes truth to the text, the reader or the coauthor?  And since when is this particular text the comprehensive statement on progressive politics?  That a writer would broach their diatribe against Matt Stoller with a citation of the text they aggressively marketed and coauthored should raise many eyebrows.  Are we concerned with politics, or are we concerned with the text we coauthored?  I will allow others to answer this question.  I will allow others to determine whether or not it is proper to cite a text without acknowledging its propreitary status.  Although disavowed, the Proper Name symptomatically asserts itself.

But that's exactly what the labor unions are doing in IL-08 as they lend support to an independent challenger to Melissa Bean.

Now the text whose proprietary status is only tacitly acknowledged will speak on behalf of unions.  Indeed, it should serve as a primer for such organizations.  But it is not the text that should serve as the source and wellspring of truth for unions and labour organizations; it is the coauthor who although disavowed is suddenly the purveyor of truth.  And this purveyor is a splenetic purveyor: crossing Him and contradicting His transcendental voice which dawns on us from the distant horizon will compel him to shower you with abuse.  Read the following statement:

This is extraordinarily stupid. Mind-boggling so [sic].

For to Him, stupidity is not necessarily a result of faulty logic or of blind tendentiousness.  Instead, it is the ineluctable product of contradicting the biblical text He coauthored.  If one does not exercise fidelity to the text whose correct interpretation only He understands, if one unwittingly diverges from the text whose proprietary status he cannot acknowledge, lest he too become a named human, then they must lack what he considers rigor, or extreme fidelity to the text which he and only he understands and possesses.  "Mind-boggling" is not Stoller's entry; mind-boggling the coauthor's ability to transfigure both himself and his text into disembodied, incandenscent rays whose dawning over the dark horizon only He can orchestrate.  This recursive procedure, this mutual reification of text and author into disembodied, inviolable phenomena, although utterly transparent to me, is only thrown into relief by a critical reader who is not blinded by His illuminations. Too bad his followers are not very critical.

But He does claim to be a humble diety: he and his text reveal that he too has human qualities.  For he admits that the unions whose politics he believes only He and His text should govern have no reason to endorse Melissa Bean.  As he says,

The unions don't have to support Bean. She hasn't earned that support.

But he nonetheless believes they should endorse her. Or at least he believes they should not endorse anyone if they will not endorse her.  Why?  Here is the opaque answer:

[T]o work to defeat her makes no political sense.

And political sense is one that is always and only, indeed invariably, determinded by Him and His text, whose proper interpretation He and only He wields.  What is this political sense?  He admits it in his entry, and I reproduce in full below.

It's rare for one seat to really matter in the House? Sure, but we're 15 seats away and we'll be making gains this November. Enough to take back the House? I'm still skeptical, but regardless, it'll be extraordinarily close. If that one seat costs us the majority and the subpoena power to investigate the Bush Administration's myriad abuses, will it have been worth it? ... Not if the unions want control of the House by the party of the people, rather than the ideologues currently running the country into the ground.

Political sense is gaining the majority.  Political sense, according to Him and the text whose propriety status He cannot acknowledge, is the creation of a majority for a party who may or may not "earn" the endorsements of the organizations they ostensibly represent.  Political sense, according to Him, is the maintenance of business as usual in the name of gaining a majority, a majority that He too cannot acknowledge.  Although He states that it is the "party of the people," He does not name the party that is ostensibly for the people.  This party, for those who may not know what it may be, is the Democratic party.

So He cannot name Himself, the coauthor of the suddenly authoritative text He cites, or the party whose status quo His text blindly supports.  For to name Himself, the coauthor of His text and the Party His text supports would transform all three into earthly, qualified objects whose material limits and epistemological limitations would have to be acknowledged.  The status quo of the Democratic Party and the extreme bias of Markos would be highlighted.  But that cannot occur if He is to remain a Him and if the Party is to remain a Party.  If he and the party were to be demoted to the status of nouns without property, without propriety, without a reified sense of what is proper and without capital letters to seperate them from the world they desire to orchestrate and control, then He and the Party would not have Universal Authority.  And in fact, He and the Party are so important, the text itself must be demoted; the text itself must be named, while He and the Party must remain untouched and immune to criticism. Notice that he does write the title of the text. The text has thus been subordinated to the his transcendental aspirations.

"Mind-boggling" and "stupid" Stoller's diary is not.  "Mind-boggling" and "stupid" is the paradox of a text whose ostensible support for grassroots politics and political change in Washington, DC, has suddenly become a primer that will properly indoctrinate the uneducated masses to the rudiments of the American political process and to the proper role of a Democrat in their proper political party.  One crashes the gates in order to participate in business as usual in Washington, DC.  This, I believe, is "mind-boggling" and "stupid," for a progressive politics should never invest power and authority in concepts or people who are so frightened of the material world that they refuse to allow themselves to be un/properly named.

Since when has Kos become a God? And since when is he the voice of a progressive politics? And since when does someone who behaves so "mind-bogglingly""stupid" have the right to refer to those who may disagree with his blind allegiance to business as usual Democrats in Washington, DC, as "stupid?" I believe he should publicly apologize to Matt Stoller. And he should publically apologize to everyone else for maintaining his ego instead of engaging in a truly coalitional and coalescent political project.

Tags: Crashing the Gates, Dogma, IL-08, Kos, party, Unions (all tags)

Comments

22 Comments

Re: On Being Proper: Why Kos Should Apologize

You know alot of words, you must be right.

by paragon88 2006-04-11 05:48PM | 0 recs
This isn't worth the 1600 or so words

you wasted on it.

You could have written a cogent one paragrpah rebuttal that would have been infinitly more readable. Breity is the soul of wit.

As to your 1st complaint (the one you take up half your post with),  you are probably right, no-one in the blogosphere has any idea Kos wrote Crashing the Gate and it was just so devious of him to cite his book with out reminding everyone he was the author.

by molly bloom 2006-04-11 05:57PM | 0 recs
Re: This isn't worth the 1600 or so words

You missed the point.  

by illinois062006 2006-04-11 06:58PM | 0 recs
It was hard to find your point

So I could be forgiven for missing it, assuming I did.

Half your post was taken up with a bogus J'accuse  complaint that Kos didn't identify himself as the author of CTG. Aside from the fact the cover of CTG (with author's names) is displayed prominently on the Dailykos website, I daresay there is noone in the blogosphere  who doesn't know Kos wrote CTG. You can hardly turn on a political radio show or TV without seeing him or Jerome promoting their book.

Your other point was who died and made Kos God. If you disagree with Kos' ideas, refute them point by point in detail, don't waste time with this sort of crap.

If you had another point, it got lost, but that's what happens with bad writing.

If this werre English comp 101 I'd have to give you a D,  too much filler.

Sorry.

Notice how I summed up your 1650 word post in under 200 words- and actually I did your points in under 50. The rest was a critique of some of the worst writing I have seen this side of William F. Buckely.

by molly bloom 2006-04-11 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: It was hard to find your point

No, you did not summarize it, and you clearly misunderstood the issues of authorship, property, propriety, proper name and transcendental signifieds I developed in the first half of the diary.  Perhaps if you read Derrida you would understand.  

Thank you for your input.  But too bad you have proven once again that you are dense and reactionary.

by illinois062006 2006-04-11 08:07PM | 0 recs
Re: It was hard to find your point

And you have once again proven you can hurl ad hominems with the best of them.

I'm sure you'll regard me as anti-intellectual, but Derrida? On a political blog? Seriously? Oh, man, you ARE serious. Yikes!

by DavidNYC 2006-04-11 08:40PM | 0 recs
Re: It was hard to find your point

Derrida is a very political intellectual figure.  I guess the legacy of 68 is one to which you do not adhere.  I do, but then again, I am somewhat of a Francophile.

by illinois062006 2006-04-11 08:42PM | 0 recs
What you are

is a pretentious, intellectual snob. Which is why you bring out the Dorothy Parker in me.

I don't deride real intellectuals. Real intellectuals don't go around telling everyone what an intellectual they are. They have no need to do that. Also real intellectuals can write clearly.

by molly bloom 2006-04-12 03:36AM | 0 recs
Ad hominium and abuse of rating

= 0 rating. I was patient with you the 1st time.

Yes its clearly my fault that you did a lousy job with your essay.

by molly bloom 2006-04-12 03:23AM | 0 recs
Re: On Being Proper: Why Kos Should Apologize

(gonggg)

by HellofaSandwich 2006-04-11 06:49PM | 0 recs
Derrida? Derrida? DERRIDA?

Actually, citing Jacques Derrida wasn't bad. What was bad was the snide and condescending tone you used to cite Derrida.

"Perhaps if you read Derrida you would understand. Thank you for your input.  But too bad you have proven once again that you are dense and reactionary."

Right. No one understands me...I am surrounded by fools. Simpletons! Not for nothing, but you come off like the pompous college kid in Good Will Hunting who spent $110,000 for an education he could have gotten for a buck-and-a-half with a library card.

by Arkhangel 2006-04-11 09:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Derrida? Derrida? DERRIDA?

I am not exactly sure I agree with this comment.  In fact, the denigration of intellectual labor is something about which I feel I feel you should be cautioned.  I also doubt an autodidact would be able to marshall Derrida in the manner I did.  I also believe your comment is a personal attack, and I do not know if that is terribly productive.

But you failed to comment on Molly Bloom's evaporation of my diary to an insipid statement.  

Although I did not expect my viewpoint and my rigorous unraveling of Markos's entry to be received kindly by many readers, I did not anticipate such antiintellectualist comments on a liberal blog.

by illinois062006 2006-04-11 09:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Derrida? Derrida? DERRIDA?

Not having studied Derrida, or deconstructionism, I can't comment on whether you marshaled him properly or not. But that's not what I was referring to.

What I was referring to was your snide, dismissive tone. You may not think it was so; everyone else, myself included, thought so. I'm merely letting you know as a courtesy.

I'm not entirely certain why you wrote the diary, and I think that's other commentators think, too. So Markos cited himself in attacking Matt's conclusions. So what? It was convenient for him to do so, since he'd already reached the conclusion he was aiming for in the book.

Finally, I'm not denigrating intellectual labor. I'm merely pointing out that, when people criticize your tone and writing style, your reaction isn't to accept the criticism as valid; it's to dismiss the criticism as invalid, and the critics as unworthy judges of your intellectual ability. Perhaps that's the case; but I don't agree.

No one here has dismissed your claims out of hand (except, perhaps, David, and I think he was being more sarcastic than anything else). Everyone else has tried to puzzle through what you've said, except for me, who took you to task for what?

Oh, that's right: ad-hominem attacks. The kind of personal attacks that you've used against molly in this thread--"dense", "reactionary", "insipid"--are far worse than anything anyone's said to you.

To summarize: All we're saying is: you're a lousy writer. I don't know who taught you writing, but they forgot to inform of this: Clarity isn't the enemy of Truth; it's her closest ally. I'm guessing you're trying to make a valid point in your essay above. We're trying to help you make it. You can accept our help, and quit acting like an arrogant pseudo-intellectual know-it-all, or you can reject it, secure in your condescension at our lack of intellectual heft and brainpower.

The choice is yours to make. I will say this, having been in your shoes once: the world's much more interesting when you choose to have your pretensions and assumptions challenged by your equals, and not confirmed by a slavering coterie of pretentious dilletantes.

by Arkhangel 2006-04-11 10:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Derrida? Derrida? DERRIDA?

An academic, I prefer the criticism of my colleagues.  You can choose not to accept it, and I will empathize with your choice.

by illinois062006 2006-04-11 10:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Derrida? Derrida? DERRIDA?

I also understand that those who are not academics in the humanities will most probably not be able to follow the line of argument I composed in approximately 15 minutes.  

by illinois062006 2006-04-11 10:36PM | 0 recs
Hubris

This is pure hubris and unwarranted hubris at that.

I can tell you wrote it in 15 minutes because not a lot of thought went into it. Actually I am surprised it took you 15 minutes; you must have spent half of it consulting a dictionary.  

Your humanities professors would be embarressed at your inability to write a clear and concise essay. Finally, as I noted above, if you have a problem with Kos's ideas, refute them point by point. You will get more respect from me and everyone else here if you do that, regardless of whether or not we agree with you.

No that apparantly is too hard for you and doesn't give you the same sense of smug satisfaction that writing drivel does.

by molly bloom 2006-04-12 03:46AM | 0 recs
Now this is a fine example

of good writing. Your humanities professors would be proud.

I'd give you a 4, but it doesn't go that high, so I will give you a 3 and loud applause.  

by molly bloom 2006-04-12 03:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Derrida? Derrida? DERRIDA?

I am pretty confident I used him correctly.  In fact, I know I did.

by illinois062006 2006-04-12 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Derrida? Derrida? DERRIDA?

"and not confirmed by a slavering coterie of pretentious dilletantes." But isn't that what kos and the kossacks do?

by Kankakee Voice 2006-04-12 04:56PM | 0 recs
Eviscerate

What I did was eviscerate your diary because it was pretentious drivel.

I am not anti-intellectual. I am anti snobbery and anti-pretentiousness.

by molly bloom 2006-04-12 03:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Derrida? Derrida? DERRIDA?

"Although I did not expect my viewpoint and my rigorous unraveling of Markos's entry to be received kindly by many readers, I did not anticipate such antiintellectualist comments on a liberal blog." you say.

I so relate. Kos is nothing but a mainstream democrat with a blog that is having it's 15 minutes of fame. With the herd mentality at kos, did you really expect to find any deep intellectual streams there, or here, where so many kos wannabes congregate? Don't cast your pearls before swine.  

by Kankakee Voice 2006-04-12 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: On Being Proper: Why Kos Should Apologize

by molly bloom 2006-04-12 03:30AM | 0 recs

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