Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Concerning My Vicious Crusade Against the World's Children

Upgraded and Adapted from the Moot

Because I have described as "infantile" anarchists who want to "smash the state" rather than democratize it and who seem to regard as roughly equivalent anyone who differs from them on that question, whether of the center-left, the center-right, the more radical left, the more radical right, and because I have also described as "infantile" superlative futurologists who pine to have their mammalian bodies and brains quasi-immortalized through "uploading" them somehow into cyberspace or into comic-book capacitated robot bodies thereupon to wallow in treasure and pleasure in virtual reality or nanobotic paradises under the vigilance and care of superintelligent superparental Robot Gods, and because I have accused the bravely pseudonymous hyper-regular commenter in the Moot "Summerspeaker" of being "infantile" on several occasions in which he seemed to be advocating such positions, he has declared me to be "ageist." Pro-child crusader "Summerspeaker" courageously castigates me thus: "Look at the narrative you're invoking. It codes the state of being grown-up as positive and the state of being a child as negative."

How right you are, "Summerspeaker"!

And no doubt all the world's gurgling babies gratefully acknowledge your efforts on their behalf against the devastating, tyrannical, and apparently "anti-child" premise I invoked.

You will be unsurprised to hear, knowing after all what a reactionary totalitarian bigot I am as compared to radical keyboard kommandos and Robot Cultists like you, I remain convinced that with the experience that properly freights the arrival of adulthood worthy human beings become more reasonable and responsible partners in the work of civilization.

I believe, further, that this maturation requires painful reckonings: with the inevitability of finding compromises among the diverse stakeholders with whom we share the world but differ in our aspirations and assumptions, with the awareness that we must regularly disdain present comforts for longer-term flourishing, that we must likewise relinquish comfortable moralisms to find our way to the precarious universalities of ethics and law, and so on.

A psychoanalytically-informed formulation of the premise would describe the confrontation of the Pleasure Principle (the infant's plenitude at the Mother's literal or figurative breast) with the Reality Principle (the youth's coming into awareness that her homely authorities are not, nor could they be, fully equal to their trust, that the customs, norms, and expectations familiar to her are neither universal nor yet justified, that all humans, as is she herself, are finite, error-prone, susceptible to disease and unease, and sure of death).

You can deny all this or disdain its salience or disapprove the form in which I have tried to phrase these insights if you like. But you'll forgive me if I admit you seem simply to reveal yet again the emptiness of the "radicalism" you trumpet as the superior of my own effort, and, I'm sorry to say, your ultimate unseriousness as a would-be interlocutor.

Here, by the way, is the text of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which I heartily approve despite being an anti-child ageist for calling would-be State-Smashers and Robot Cultists infantile.


what the Tee Vee taught said...

It seems you're getting baited here. Summerspeaker is strictly adversarial, not operating in "good faith", no? I don't know.

Where do you find yourself falling on the ole' free will debate? You know, like, on one extreme hand: the conscious self is definitively calling the shots; on the other: fuck it, I'm out of control — and I'm not even terribly responsible for coming to that conclusion, sticking with that conclusion, or swinging elsewhere.

Perhaps, to answer my query and save yourself the time, you've already written something on the broad topic which you could point to? Maybe you're not interesting in the question, or you see it to be a flawed premise?

I ask, I suppose, because it seems useful in discussing if/how behavior — particularly the (cringe face) "decisions" of the US electorate — can change for wonderful betterment of good times and joy, and more!

Anisa said...

That was one of the most idiotic and annoying comments I've ever read. I think your drive to bother people outdoes your drive to engage in productive dialogue, and you need to resolve the former before attempting the latter.

what the Tee Vee taught said...

Anisa, is your comment aimed at the tee vee? I'd feel a wry sense of accomplishment if I topped your idiotic AND annoying list — a real double-threat.

I was just trying to ask, is it reasonable to seek universal ethics? Carrico is advocating that we go through the painful reckoning (sure, why not?), and we pull our heads out of our comfortable moralisms (challenge the easy morality, cool), but what of this universality? More than precarious, no? And even if we got there, wouldn't a universal ethic drive us all fucking nuts? Maybe?

Dale Carrico said...

This topic is huge -- I provide a sketch of my vantage here. The distinction between morality and ethics for me is the distinction between the "we" explicitly constituted through the exclusion of the "they" and the "we" addressed to the good opinion of mankind or to posterity and against the grain of such exclusions. You would be right to propose that the ethical "we" will surely be retroactively exposed as a parochialism no less than the moral "we" -- and indeed for me all ethical universalisms are contingent and not "natural" or "sacred" -- but for me the performative substance of each is definitively different. Universal declarations of rights, the principle of nonviolence, the government of laws and not men are always undermined by moralizing but remain accomplishments unavailable to moralism as such. This makes all the difference in my judgment. The story is an enormous one, about which I have regularly lectured but never yet written extensively here. The distinction of morals and ethics seems to me the cultural register of the quarrels of the ancients and the moderns (mores/ethos was not freighted for the ancients with the significance I would attach to it for those who would assert their modernity -- and, just to forestall the question, I regard assertions of enlightenment, romanticism, post-modernity, and a-modernity all to be assertions of modernity, whether their declarers like it or not), as a newly salient distinction between science and politics is the social register of those quarrels. Lots of juicy stuff here, but its elaboration will have to wait.

Summerspeaker said...

But you'll forgive me if I admit you seem simply to reveal yet again the emptiness of the "radicalism" you trumpet as the superior of my own effort, and, I'm sorry to say, your ultimate unseriousness as a would-be interlocutor.

I make no such claims of superiority, Dale. To the contrary, I believe in equality. I express my convictions out of sincerity and an interest in dialogue. I would prefer less adversarial interactions, but I appreciate your wit. Keep it up.

As for the rest, yeah, it sucks to get called out for invoking an oppressive narrative. We've all been through that before.

Dale Carrico said...

Fair enough, let's quit while we're ahead, best to you.