Posted by The Happy Tutor
Radicals of various forms and inclinations have a similar problem: for the most part, they’re located within a kind of lumpenbourgoisie that arises within and around the same social formations that sustain contemporary American liberals.
What he means is that we don't fit inside Wealth Bondage, greasing the wheels of procedure; nor are we fit for the Academy; instead we rise from the Dumpster of the forsaken just behind Wealth Bondage, across the parking lot from The Local Store of Convenience. And he is only half right. Dick Minim and The Author Function are very much a part of the Liberal/ Libertarian/ Democratic/ Republican business-as-normal world of Wealth Bondage. They are actively engaged in it, part of the hierarchy, dealing smoothly and decorously with the powers that be, not just with educators, and functionaries. More is at stake than situationist sock puppets versus serious grown ups in suits. "Habitus" finds us all. There is no pure vanilla prose, no speaker without a mask or a shtick. What is unsettling, I think to Burke, is that some of those who can write like a liberal sack of garbage do not, except for money and preferment on company time. There is a sense in which some of us have outgrown it, moved past that pious charade. We can no longer see ourselves as functionaries in a decent play, with a good Author, all serious. We may be the producer, or the director but in that role we recognize that what we produce is schlock. We recognize that we no less than the Author Function are responsible for the lies our demeanor tells, when we keep a straight face at the very farce we produce for popular consumption and purposes of administrative authority. Candor today is disingenuous: Knave or Dupe. I prefer Clown. And this dialectic is not "American history from '60's forward," it goes back through the history of English and Roman Satire to Saturnalia, and through Rabelais to popular traditions that were old in the Middle Ages. Clowning around is a constantly reinvented response to the abuse of the power to create lies that pass for truth, served up in steaming dish by a Courtier with an earnest manner and a gracious smile. Timothy is a comfortable insider in a respectable place. He likes it there as he should, for he is insulated from the very "procedures" he describes. As he himself is defending hirelings more so than being one, he has not yet reached the point when, on his own time, to preserve his own sanity, he sneaks out in back of Wealth Bondage to make fun of his own act. Perhaps he would if his job were peddling products or his own fanny, as is mine. This seemingly radical abstention from "the importance of being earnest" is not well considered strategic action. It is the unbidden upwelling of a human spirit unwilling to die into the official lies it daily tells.
Let me add a few other points to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding: I loved Timothy's post on the rift between liberals and leftists, and learned from it. I look upon his position in Academics as not the object of envy so much as admiration, and regret. (Wish it was me. Bravo to Timothy for having made it in a very competitive field; may he pass on his traditions of liberalism to generations of bright students and may those students reap the fruit of what we would sow, a renaissance of democracy and reason.) Like Timothy, I do wish that liberals were above the fray, presiding over institutions characterized by moderation, fairness, good will, reason and parliamentary procedure. But that is not so. That is what we have lost, or is rapidly slipping away, under pressure from those who have no intentions of compromising with liberals, who indeed bait them, as ineffectual and diffident as they are, and call them traitors. How will we get democracy back, by fighting with one another, left and middle, or by acting like nothing much has happened, just going on working our daily procedures, as Wealth Bondage sets in? For some of us business as usual sets in like death or paralysis, not just in the body politic, but in our most personal inner selves. We become the knave we play as we go along to get along with the intolerable. To dramatize that knavery, our own, the acts in which we are complicit, is the least we can do out of human decency. Would that more followed suit from the President on down, at least once a year. For even Americans, even after the loss of New Orleans, Carnival should come to all, no matter how dignified, not less than annually for the sake of the holy spirit, and renewal. Clowns and Carnival are not some kind of new fangled revolution. They are more like Cake Walk at the Big House. We the lumpenbourgoisie caper and dance to confirm our increasingly widespread slavery. We are indeed in it together. This year Dick and I are going to go the Carnival as effete liberals. Can you join us, Mr. Burke? We can find you a bow-tie. Mummy Minim will be so proud that Dick has reconnected with his academic roots. We will be on our best behavior, and I know we can count on you to abstain from drinking, dancing, or telling irreverent jokes at the expense of our President and CEO, Candidia Cruikshanks.