By Richard M. Rorty, Kent Puckett
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Extra resources for Against Bosses, Against Oligarchies: A Conversation with Richard Rorty
I think of the intellectual left as dominated by the notion that we need a theoretical understanding of our historical situation, a social theory which reveals the keys to the future development, and a strategy which integrates everything with everything. I just don’t see the point. I don’t see why there shouldn’t be sixteen initiatives, each of which in one way or another might relieve some suffering, and no overall theoretical integration. Q: It might be that some of this thinking is that the left isn’t quite sure what those initiatives should be, and that while the theorizing may occasionally become a fetish, it can also be a way of stepping back to one remove from the situation in order to get a clearer view, so we can then see what the more specific initiatives should be.
Q: Since you then moved on to become a professor of the humanities, rather than a philosophy professor, was it 56 also your conscious decision to align yourself with literary theory? RR: No, it was repulsion rather than attraction. That is, what I wanted was a job that was not in a philosophy department. I didn’t care what kind of job it was, so long as I didn’t have to go to any more philosophy department meetings. When Don Hirsch (who hired me at Virginia) called me up and asked, “Hey, do you want to be an English professor,” I said I’d come if I could be a nondepartmental university professor.
RR: That was what Gompers said about the Irish. It’s an age-old technique: dividing the oppressed into hostile groups so they won’t vote against you. Q: Fred Pfeil has a piece called “Sympathy for the Devils: Notes on Some White Guys in the Ridiculous Class Wars,” and the interesting thing there is that he locates the absence of whites from these conversations in the same way that you do, and what he ends up saying is, let’s try to understand why a militia politics happens. The idea is that there’s some way that you can get to class through a more fully articulated discussion of race, 46 because there’s a way to talk about what it is that these people are missing, and what’s offered in its place in the militias.
Against Bosses, Against Oligarchies: A Conversation with Richard Rorty by Richard M. Rorty, Kent Puckett