Thursday, October 28, 2004

Nailing a Neo-Marxist

I read an online excerpt of Cornel West's Democracy Matters several weeks ago, but I decided not to blog about it because I didn't know where to begin. It is simply one of the worst pseudo-intellectual excretions I've ever stumbled into. Luckily, Will Wilksinson was willing to hold his nose long enough to deal with West's waste, in an essay at Tech Central Station). Here's a sample of Wilkinson's take:
...A fellow professor once quipped: "Cornel's work tends to be 1,000 miles wide and about two inches deep." In a new book, Democracy Matters,...West promises to examine a triple threat to democracy: "free-market fundamentalism," "aggressive militarism," and "escalating authoritarianism." Despite the occasional insight and illuminating connection, mostly we observe Professor West in his thousand-mile pool, out of his depth, gurgling in dropped names like a baby face-down in a puddle....

...Despite West's intellectual posturing, Democracy Matters is a prime example of the quasi-intellectualism of the far left, a triumph of moralizing, name-dropping rhetoric over argument. West's wide-ranging erudition is impressive, but nowhere provides a curious but skeptical reader with a reason to believe that the market does in fact have this kind of distorting effect on our minds, or a corrosive effect on democracy as it is less tendentiously understood. West engages no advocates of the free market, nor does he even deign to knock down straw men. Overestimating the world-making powers of language, West simply slaps negative labels on his opponents and declares victory. The choir is no doubt delighted.
That's more than enough of Cornel West.