Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Traffic Rules For Egoists

I'm not the only one who has been reading David Graeber's Debt. Here, in a generally sympathetic discussion, Chris Bertram notes that problems with Graeber's conceptual apparatus makes it difficult for him to see what might be appealing about various forms of social democracy. Like the interviewer here (and here: via Chris), and as I did, he also points out the similarity of parts of that apparatus to parts of G. A. Cohen's critique of what he saw as the organising moral principles of capitalism. That interviewer also draws a comparison between Bernard Williams' worries about the "peculiar institution" of morality and Graeber's worries about his own peculiar institution, debt. Williams was once, as a member of John Smith's Commision on Social Justice, criticized by Cohen for failing to see the allegedly enduring theoretical and rhetorical power of exactly the sort of norm in whose terms Graeber also decries capitalism. Williams' response then was, as so often when confronted by what he saw as moralising cant, to pose, in particularly cutting terms, the question of exactly who this sanctimoniousness was supposed to be for. Drawing on Cohen's background as a Marxist to summarise his obvious disdain for Cohen's Marxian-inspired view, he said:

“Marxists, as opposed to the Utopian socialists whom they tended to despise, notably believed in two things: the political importance of a sound historical analysis, and a firmly unsentimental picture of what made people act. It is a remarkable dialectical turn by which… it seems the Commission rather than Cohen who are in touch with the traditions of Marxist socialism”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Preti Votano

Perche non posso trovarlo con sottotitoli inglese, con sottotitoli francese.