Monday, 22 August 2005

Socialism, Evolutionary Theory & the Solipsism of the Dissertator Were Scott McLemee to cast his current project back a couple of decades, his usefulness to me would shoot up exponentially.[1] Sure, his bi-weekly Intellectual Affairs column somehow never disappoints the considerable expectations with which I anticipate it. Certainly, the standard he's set for blogging about academic matters is one all academic bloggers should aspire to meet. But answer me this: What has Scott McLemee done for me lately? Nothing. Except for the occasional edification. And clarification. And elucidation. Not to mention all the incidental detenebrations about alembicated over-subtilizations. (Rips sleeve off shirt. Tourniquet staunches learned but labored logorrhea. Spits. Appears overly pleased by own inscrutability. Arm of Angry God stretches from offstage left. Fingers roll into Infallible Fist. Angry God shakes Infallible Fist. Scott laughs heartedly, dies ironically.) My highly rational point is that the only value all people who are not Scott Eric Kaufman have for all people who are Scott Eric Kaufman resides in the catalytic potential of their thought and the possibility that it will assist all people who are Scott Eric Kaufman in finishing his damnably unfinishable dissertation. That said, were I not nearly blinded by myopic visions of completed chapters I would no doubt be incredibly interested in McLemee's current work. He's addressing many of the same issues I am only more directly, by which I mean "not alembicated through refined literary filters like my work will day be." Of course, since popular and literary cultures are often indistinguishable in the period in which I work, my focus on the literature may allow me to address these issues with a confidence McLemee will never acquire, what with the rise of radio programs destined to fade unrecoverable into the ether. (If ever you wanted to excavate my insecurities, the previous sentence would be an excellent place to begin, e.g. "What ate at Scott day-and-night for months-upon-months was the possibility that somewhere out there, in an "archive" consisting of the collapsed basement of a soon-to-be-demolished house, awaits an article providing incontrovertible evidence of Jack London's position on...") All of which is only to say that I believe I have to systematize my account of the relation of socialist thought to evolutionary theory. Right now it's currently more an account of what idiosyncratic socialist thinkers (like Jack London) considered a reasonable bridge between these two diverse bodies of thought. I have a hunch (based on three years of research) that the majority of thinkers wouldn't fit neatly into any recognized body of evolutionary or socialist thought, and that London's eclectisim is thus far more representative than one might think. Still, since socialist doctrine was far more routinized after the establishment of Communist Party liasons in the C.P.U.S.A. and evolutionary thought would be closer to the establishment of the Modern Synthesis, there's a good chance that both may've been far less adventurous than they had been at the turn-of-the-century. But I can't say that with any certainty. I had intended this discussion turn to the incompatibilities of "social...

Become a Fan

Recent Comments