Houdini said that no one could be considered a magician without mastering the cups & ball. That is, can you always make it be that the ball is under the OTHER cup. Anti-CRT is similar close-up sleight of hand, True Scotsman-style. The True Scotsman is always under the other cup.
So then, when the mark picks the wrong cup you lift it up in triumph. 'You just did a 'no true Scotsman'! Shame, fallacy! Why won't you argue straight?'
But seriously, the one thing that these folks cannot dare examine openly, for then the gig is up, is the likely relationship between two things: 1) some fairly abstruse academic writings; 2) a lot of people alleging, angrily, there are systemic injustices that need addressing.
The goal is to invalidate - pathologize - 2) via dark association with 1). This is an inherently implausible since it is unlikely - these are humans, you recall - that a pile of abstruse academic stuff would, absent plausible injustice, induce widespread cries of 'injustice'.
This is what gives the anti-CRT argument its inevitable air of loopy conspiracism. If 2) is nothing - there isn't a THERE-there, just something Adorno and Horkheimer scribbled, maliciously, in 1930 - then the whole thing is probably evil Jews, behind the scenes, pulling strings.
This is genuinely a defect of the grift. I don't think James Lindsay really wants to be selling antisemitic boob-bait. He just wants to sell boob-bait. But there isn't any of the right sort, with the connecting bits colored in, that doesn't pop out as wow! antisemitic.
I imagine Lindsay reads stuff like this and thinks, 'You try being out here everyday, hustling, without it sometimes coming out sounding like the frickin' Protocols, lady!'
So you work it at both ends. Rubbish academic stuff. Since some of it is sure to be kooky, this isn't hard. The rest you straw man. Regarding the ordinary stuff - regular folks thinking they see systemic racism - you just mislabel it as academic: CRT.
Might there be some truth to 2) even if it is not well-gotten-at via the very worst of this 1) stuff? You cannot, cannot, cannot go there. That is the death of grift. But it's just common sense that abstruse academic stuff might have limited influence on mass politics. Maybe.
And there is one more level to the trick. The thing blows up in short order if anyone simply asks what 1) has to do with 2). But, once you've got it up and running for a while - you've got the audience feeling in on that deep link: it's all connected, man! -
then, to those segments of the audience, 'does 1) really have a lot to do with 2)?' seem not like the sensible, potentially disconfirming line of inquiry it really is. No, it seems like blind idiocy, sheeple groupthink or you must be in on the plot.
To put it yet another way, Lindsay likes to gripe about Hegel, but his own thinking is the worst sort of hypertrophic, totalizing Hegelism. It's argument by 'since it all speculatively fits, how could it be wrong?'
The worst in Hegelism is when it just sort of squats on you, with all its authoritative, speculative bulk, giving you no air. It is not open to piecemeal challenge or questioning. No one with a Popperian bone in their body can get a word in edge-wise. And that's James Lindsay.
He makes sure to disallow asking whether what he is saying is, you know, true.
This analogy may seem like I'm just straining to say Lindsay is what he hates. But there really is an intellectual style link between this sort of anti-CRT thinking and German idealism at its worst.
Hegel's appeal is that he seems to be talking on so many levels at once - politics! logic! ideas! history! The plausibility comes from all those levels seeming so speculatively reinforcing, mutually. It feels like confirmation that it all fits! But the problem is:
If it isn't clear whether you are doing logic, purely, or studying history, empirically, you can always sort of shift registers, to sidestep criticism. That's what makes 'Absolute Spirit, Come to Know Itself, As Itself' liable to decay into verbal cups and ball.
Lindsay is exactly like that: it's absolutely insane that, at any given moment, one cannot say whether we are discussing some academic paper maybe 100 people have read, or else are discussing the fact that lots of people are marching in a BLM rally. It all seems vaguely One.

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More from @jholbo1

10 Jun
Trump will be remembered as the man who destroyed the GOP's inhibitions.
It's all like a bitter parody of a very American sub-genre: the holy fool in politics. Americans like stories about idiots, without a head for politics, who somehow wander close to the heart of the action, thereby transforming it by sheer Forrest Gumption.
Trump is that tale come true in reverse: the unholy fool. A man with no understanding or even interest in politics, yet a seething cauldron of resentments, bullying instincts - a monster from the id. He has taught R's a naive life lesson just by walking, simply, among them:
Read 4 tweets
9 Jun
A couple days ago someone - sorry, forget who - was making fun of this Josh Hammer piece because it's written kinda funny. He misuses words in a flourish-y way. (The opening 'herewith' is a clunker.) 1/ papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf…
But one thing he does that I've always meant to comment on is gripe about the Anthony Kennedy line that gripes conservatives. “The right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” From "Casey". 2/
Usually the complaint is that Kennedy is being too agnostic. Hammer - possibly already thinking ahead to how is going to misuse 'eponymous' in the next sentence - blames it for being gnostic. (But relativist!) 3/
Read 11 tweets
2 Jun
I surely didn't know about Tulsa, growing up, but the single thing I have learned in the last few years, that most shocked me and also fundamentally altered my view of the landscape, was the prevalence of 'sundown towns' across the US. 1/ sundown.tougaloo.edu/sundowntowns.p…
James Loewen, who wrote the book, remarks on that page: "When I began this research, I expected to find about 10 sundown towns in Illinois (my home state) and perhaps 50 across the country. Instead, I have found about 507 in Illinois and thousands across the United States." 2/
There are a lot of small to mid-sized towns and cities in the US with nearly all-white populations. Loewen expected to find they were a mix: some 'sundown towns' where African-Americans were excluded by law and threat of violence, but some all-white by chance. 3/
Read 25 tweets
1 Jun
I gave a lecture once in which I riffed on the democracy of the dead, per Chesterton vs. the democracy of the non-existent, á la Parfit. I whipped up a few illustrations to go with. Later a pro-life person emailed and asked to use the baby one and I said ok.
Oh - hey, I totally forgot. I also talked about paradoxes of identity and preference satisfaction for the same lecture. Suppose as a child you really want three scoops of bubblegum-flavored ice cream but, alas, it is not to be.
Later do you have a reason to satisfy that desire just because you are still the same person, even you you no longer want bubblegum-flavored ice cream? (I was going through a Jim Flora phase, as illustrator.) Obviously you do not still have a reason.
Read 5 tweets
1 Jun
Modern US politics is culturally driven by negative partisanship. Discourse, in that context, is shame and contempt-driven. The rhetorical goal is to sting the other side by exposing them as scoundrels and traitors to liberal democracy and American high ideals.
The right has some success at this - CRT, 'Woke'. The left has more. No one on the left, or in the middle, seriously worries maybe Trumpists are holding the high moral ground. I mean, srsly: Trump. Matt Gaetz is going to lecture me? Marco Rubio? The right lacks moral cred.
Hence the right is regularly stung by accusations of racism, Trump is a con man, 1619, R's are an antidemocratic, Q-addled 'basket of deplorables', the sedition caucus, voter suppression. Conservatives genuinely are infuriated by these charges. Why? (You do the math.)
Read 7 tweets
1 Jun
New OBZ pages! Z's made a friend! (Or has he?)

More than ever you see the influence of Nietzsche on Dr. Seuss in these pages. But also the influence of Plato on Nietzsche - the quality of the teacher-pupil relationship in philosophy. onbeyondzarathustra.com/obz-gdfd-p2-01
And yet: is not Seuss' famous, titular Cat also a seducer, in the Socratic mode, terrifying yet entrancing?

At any rate, it's interesting that Nietzsche foresees the rise of modern 'Cinema' culture ...
... also the way in which said cinema culture, which should be the basis of fierce life-promotion, may decline into decadent spectatorship! Cf. 'Goethean man', a.k.a. the 'Catilinist in the Hat', in "Uses and Abuses".
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