Comments on The Theory of O by CK MacLeod

The original supporters might not have been centered in the "professional left," but I think Scott is representative of a different faction - people who might not normally have had much interest in politics, but who were captivated by the Idea of Obama, and whose imaginations in regard to political possibility are generally less constrained. The young almost by definition largely fit within this group. They may also sometimes be attracted to candidates like Kucinich and Edwards, but they may also include the moderates and defectors you describe, as well as people susceptible to charisma and the sense of belonging to a collective movement. Holding onto them amidst the wearying compromises of American politics is, to say the least, difficult, since they're also given to moral purism of the sort that, if they do stay involved, may lead them more in the direction of "statement" politics. Part of the ideal they saw in Obama was a kind of deflected identity politics. So anti-racist idealists were moved by the opportunity to make an anti-racist statement. It's inevitably less powerful for them the second time around, and even if Obama still gets 95% support from African Americans, the rejection of Wright and the judgments of West don't help.

I reject the idea that it's a "dodge." It's built in. Every philosophical assertion that is true is also false, by virtue of being a philosophical assertion - something Hegel also observed, and which is easy to misconstrue. So, yes, that means that the truth of the "built-in-ness" of the self-contradiction, uselessness, and inhumanity of higher level consciousness is also subject to also-falseness. For Hegel, the movement between the two positions and the conceptualization of that movement, and so on, is what matters, not one or another position which, merely by virtue of being a position, implies its counter-position. It seems absurd or potentially absurd, a potentially endlessly recursive re-conceptualization of re-conceptualization, but it's not an observation about or only about formal logic, but about experience, time, and consciousness. The recursion really does come to an end, in real time - like now for instance (whatever "now" is or was or will be).

It seems you become "Gandhi's Jew" - with the potential for spiritual merit (or whatever the proper term is) from your self-sacrifice - but humanly incapable of embracing it. I'm not making fun of or attacking you, just pointing out the dialectic, where the prospect of super-humanity converts into inhumanity. I think the same thing that stunned you about the Gandhi-Orwell correspondence is what alienates "merely-humanists" or "realists" confronting the pronouncements of "spiritualists" ("super-humanists").

Don't think you should take the distinction between "real world" and "super-real world" as derisive. Only people who were prejudiced in favor of what they call "real" would have reason to do so. The question is how and where either the realized beings themselves or perhaps the consciousness or ultimate truth they represent is to be "real"-ized, if it's going to be, and if it needs to be - assuming it hasn't been. If it hasn't been, or if it has been, or if that's not a good distinction; or - if it hasn't been, and if it also has been, and if that's a good question that's also a bad question - (my position) - what does that tell us about it, and what does whatever it doesn't tell us about it tell us.

Don't know that Hegel was "happy," it's just the impression I get - possibly because philosophizing is a very engaging and ecstatic activity, he was professionally successful, and had a stable home life... or maybe he was just born that way.

Hegel denied that he was in the prediction game: The Owl of Minerva flies at dusk, which tends to mean that, by the time we understand things fully, we are at the end of the process of their coming into being, and unable to affect them. That's why the Hegelians end up looking back on history and explaining why things "had to happen that way" (the cunning of history). The sense of optimism comes from the idea of a great and inevitable process of coming to absolute self-knowledge of Spirit, but this viewpoint is always in danger of turning into false consciousness, and leads directly to the key criticism of Hegelian philosophy - the key criticism advanced by Marx, and typical of criticism of Hegel across the political (and philosophical) spectrum ever since - that it breeds complacency. The difficulty of Hegel reinforces this criticism: Hegel is too obscure to be useful or even comprehensible, and, to whatever extent you do understand him, it just turns you into a fat complacent self-superior bourgeois so-and-so always finding reasons to go along to get along.

Do you ever update your spiel from the 2008 campaign? Well - except for "Oprah deep leftism." That's some high grade... stuff.

Right, but we're not talking about realized beings, we're talking about real people. If a realized being could be elected president, then the system would be fine, and there wouldn't be anything for you to be desperate about, no reason to join the desperation faction, no need for a president-martyr-traitor, no need for you to open up an avenue of disagreement with me.

Things could be a whole lot worse for a whole lot more people than just Scott (and Laura) losing house, home, etc. This gets into theories of the theory, but also into the territory where Gandhi says some mad things, and the Traitor-Martyr contemplates actually accomplishing, or enabling, the objectively exact opposite of everything you or I might prefer to see on Earth...

The point, as I was tweeting on Saturday, is to accelerate in the hope of jumping the iceberg, kind of like during the finale of SPEED. Might seem difficult, but ,if it works out, you end up in the arms of Sandra Bullock out in front of the Chinese theater.

The whole point of the Theory is that a president actually interested in coping positively with an emergency and getting a few things done can't adopt a strongly ideological mode of operation. The most any single president can do at this stage in history and given systemic constraints is push things in a preferred direction and open up future possibilities. Anything else would mean taking an adversarial position against the very same history-culture-system (the state in Hegelian terminology) that produced the opportunity to turn against it - the president turning traitor from the state's perspective, martyr for an alien ideology. In other words a revolutionary president would be a president attacking the presidency - Obama attacking himself. Some day, at the end of constitutional democracy as we know it, that'll make a whole heckuva lot of sense. Maybe today if you're in the desperation faction. Even so, you might want to have a few more acolytes in place and ready to pick up the pieces before you opt for Traitor/Martyr-in-Chief.