Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Disposing of a toxic ideology

9/11 Was Big. This Is Bigger - Washington Post

End of an Error - The New Republic
The Depression--as my colleague John B. Judis put it in The Paradox of American Democracy--"destroyed in one stroke the edifice of wisdom and invincibility that businessmen had erected for themselves."

In critical theory, it's called "reification" -- getting people to think of an invented, abstract idea as a fact of nature. The intended consequence of reification is to make opposition to the idea -- laissez-faire economics, let's say -- appear as ridiculous and futile as opposing the laws of thermodynamics or the effects of gravity. The act of revealing the idea as an idea, and not as an inevitability -- that is, revealing it as changeable -- is called "demystification." I think it's fair to say that, over the past few weeks, laissez-faire has been pretty well demystified.

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