Caveat: politics

Politics is making a comeback in Jared's brain – after a nearly two-decades-long sabbatical.  This may be a false alarm.  But I've been feeling passionate about a certain political issue, and shocked and dismayed by my stand's noticeable unpopularity among nearly all of those with whom I share it. 

So, what has me all worked up?  Not Bush's war(s).  That's just "same old, same old."  Not the environment, or nuclear proliferation, or any of the various greenishly lefty sorts of things that used to get me excited in my ill-spent youth.  No, here in my ill-spent middle age, the issue that has me fuming and actually writing letters to politicians is the issue of immigration.  And most everyone I talk to about is completely put off by the stand that I take.

That position is quite simply summarized in one short, unambiguous sentence:  "citizenship belongs to those who show up."   Is this hard to understand?  I don't think so – it goes all the way back to Rousseau and the idea of the social contract and all that.  It's as democratic as things can get.  It boils down to the notion that if you want to be a part of this participatory democracy, then, welcome aboard.  Here are your rights, here are your obligations (yes, there are obligations:  pay taxes, follow the rules, etc.).  INCLUDING the Thoreauvian obligation which all citizens have to protest and resist unjust laws.  Hence my fundamental beliefs that a) illegal immigrants have as much right to be here as anyone else, and b) the argument against them that focuses on their illegality as opposed to their role as immigrants is xenophobic hogwash.  It's the standard NIMBY / "I got mine, so f**k off" attitude.  Jim Crow laws were wrong in their time, and the laws against the free movement of otherwise law-abiding humans is wrong in ours.   To the extent that we characterize ourselves as truly a democracy embracing human rights, we MUST end this injustice.

I reject any effort to characterize my belief as incoherent – as many of my interlocutors have done.  It's the purest, logical libertarianism imaginable, applied to the question of immigration.  It's about the freedom of peoples to choose their homes and, more importantly, their polities. 

Caveat: nonsense

I spent part of the day, yesterday, reading blogs. I really don't do that, very often. I had discovered (or, more likely, re-discovered) a review of the "Sokal affair" in which a physics professor at NYU had "hoaxed" the pomo (postmodernist) publication "Social Text" by sending in an article full of jargony BS and the editors let it through.   It was quite a scandal, as it allegedly proved just how vacuous pomo discourse really is – it was an "emperor has no clothes" moment. 

I also discovered an interesting little website that randomly generates a pomo article each time you refresh the page.   A lovely tool, but my first thought was – I bet some of the things that get said are really profound.  It's kind of like an instantiation of Borges' infinite library, for a particular type of discourse.  Another tool that has similar functionality is the Kant generator.  Again, my reaction, more than – wow, random BS! – is, instead – I wonder if this can generate real meaning?  Finally, there is a random generator of CSCI research papers made by some people at MIT.  Infinite monkeys, infinite typewriters, all that. 

Regardless, a review of the Sokal affair caused me to question the pomo allegiances I tend to take for granted in myself.   My affairs with Jameson, Deleuze, et al.   Are they really that impenetrable?  Or, contrariwise, am I really so deleuzional as to believe I "get" what they're trying to say?   

Currently I'm struggling through a kind of phase where I question just about everything – about what I believe, about what I want to do, about what I like  to do.  Ad infinitum.  So why no question what philosophical / lit. crit. authors I take seriously, too?

I have no answers, here.  Nor even any profound, clearly-expressed doubts.  But  I think back to Jean-Jacques LeCercle's Philosophy of Nonsense:  just because it's nonsense, doesn't mean it doesn't mean anything.  There's value and, ironically, meaning to be found in nonsense.  It's a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself.  So if the pomos are writing nonsense, maybe they've got a reason for it.