THREAD ~ Charles Mills v. “Master’s Tools”

This strategy—the “master’s tools” must be abandoned/destroyed—can be applied at will to generate a new radical thesis, e.g. OP’s “black people can’t be healthy.” Mills (2009) gives us compelling reasons for resisting this rhetoric. 1/
Just to address the obvious: Mills technically gets the quote wrong; it should be "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." The most they can do is "allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game," Lorde writes. Mills' first critiques are clear & direct: 2/
He continues by pointing to the intuitive truth that some of the master's philosophical/conceptual tools will be irredeemably racist or otherwise oppressive--such as, e.g., essentialist racial hierarchies--but some have only been used for evil contingently. 3/
As he acknowledged, however, Lorde didn't intend her claim to function as a stand alone argument. So what arguments can be given for such a claim? Mills will go on to identify 3 distinct arguments for the master's tools thesis in Tony Bogues' critiques of The Racial Contract. 4/
First is the Bad Intentions argument, which we have already seen in action. Mills' specific response here is that the tools of modern European social contract theory are either not racist, contingently racist or, though invented for racist purposes, redeemable for antiracism. 5/
Next is the Weight of History argument, of which I am only giving the more plausible version: liberal discourse is so deeply stained with white supremacy (and/or other oppressive forces) that it needs to actively combat white complicity. But Mills already acknowledges this. 6/
Finally, the most interesting and challenging argument––the Internal Structure argument: the notion that there is something intrinsic to the nature of liberalism and social contract theory that precludes these tools from being used for true progressive or antiracist purposes. 7/
Yet again, we find that requesting justification for this premise exposes an argument based on nothing stronger than a kind of dogmatic pessimism. As Mills notes, he's not alone among anticapitalists, feminists, or antiracists in assuming a basic liberal framework. 8/
Unless dogmatic pessimism is more justified than commitment to the possibility of serious political progress, there is simply no reason to believe it's true that, taken as a claim about philosophical methodology, "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." [fin]

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Sam Hoadley-Brill

Sam Hoadley-Brill Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @deonteleologist

7 Jan
Mobb Deep - Hell on Earth (1995)
Talib Kweli - 2000 Seasons (2015)
A Tribe Called Quest - Baby Phife's Return (1996)
Read 4 tweets
4 Jan
Another excellent, incredibly prescient quote from the 1996 book, The Opening of the American Mind, by UC Berkeley professor of history, Lawrence Levine: “It is exactly this understanding of how things do *not* happen that the leading critics of the contemporary university lack…
Thus they freely spin their facile theories of how the survivors of the New Left lost the political wars but won their ultimate triumph by capturing the university and transforming it from an institution of culture and learning to a high-handed and inflexible purveyor of...
Political Correctness. The problem with such notions––aside from the fact that they are promulgated, to borrow Carl Becker's memorable phrase, without fear and without research––is that they are telling examples of how things do not happen. Universities in the United States...
Read 7 tweets
2 Jan
Reading about the history of reactionary criticisms of the left a la Pluckrose & Lindsay, Douglas Murray, etc. A mentor from undergrad recommended a book responding to Allan Bloom, “The Opening of the American Mind,” by his PhD supervisor, Lawrence Levine.

Sub “woke” for “PC.” ImageImage
@mccormick_ted you history folks are always lurking with your prescience.
Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind” (1987) seems to be the Bible of this anti-woke movement. The force of his central argument seems to rely on an analogy between rising PC culture and the Nazis. Jordan Peterson has clearly devoured this one. Image
Read 6 tweets
27 Oct 20
Here goes another one of my signature threads on the incredibly bulletproof #AntiWoke online echo chambers can be, focusing again on @wokal_distance. And before you remind me I have better things to do, remind yourself I am fully aware of this fact; I simply have no self-respect.
Tweet 3 is on the right track but misses the point. A metanarrative, as conceptualized by Lyotard, is a grand, totalizing, theory of everything: a theory that ends the infinite regress of epistemic justification. Lyotard's examples include Hegelian and Marxist theories of history
Re 4: Rather, postmodernism does not believe in the truth of any metanarrative.

And no, no, no, rejecting metanarratives does NOT mean denying the existence of absolute truth, and it does not necessarily lead to relativism, though it can suggest a banal sort of constructivism.
Read 17 tweets
30 Sep 20
Alrighty folxxx, you asked for it. Here’s my thread on @Hpluckrose’s instant classic, “How French ‘Intellectuals’ Ruined the West: Postmodernism & Its Impact.” Originally published at Areo, lucky enough to get the coveted @NewDiscourses placement. [1/n]…
Right off the bat, opening paragraph suggests any worldview “which denies a stable reality or reliable knowledge to exist” is thereby inconsistent. Why? No explanation. Moving on! [2/n]
Postmodernism involves a “rejection of the concept of the unified and coherent individual” as well as “philosophy which valued ethics, reason and clarity”—these are parochial (western, middle-class, male). How does one do philosophy without reason? No answer, no citations. [3/n]
Read 19 tweets
1 Sep 20
I'm in a heavy 2014 depression mood so y'all are getting my catharsis tunes
This is the only time I've genuinely enjoyed anything Drake-involved and it's not even close

Read 6 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!