Wednesday, February 14, 2007

JARS: Degutis' "Deconstructing Postmodern Xenophelia"

The title of Degutis' essay is a mouthful, to be sure, but it is an excellent piece -- quite the best in the entire issue Fall 2006 issue of JARS. Degultis' is a Lithuanian classical liberal who understands all too well the threat posed by leftist sentiments to Western Civilization. He argues that "the agenda [of leftism] is counterproductive, it's 'progressive' goals are retrogressive, and its implementation would result in the destruction of the West." Degultis proceeds with a subtle, nuanced analysis of the main ideas of leftist thought -- an analysis that is devastating precisely because it avoids the sort of self-serving, facile distortions and crude hyperbole that are the stock and trade of the denizens of ARI. The only question one might have about Degutis' essay is, What does it have to do with Rand? It never mentions Rand, nor does it avail itself of any of Rand's singular conceptual devices. So how should we account for its inclusion in JARS? Perhaps it is there because it expresses opposition to the radical left, which Rand also vehemently -- though, unfortunately, not as intelligently -- opposed as well.

Whatever may be the reason, I doubt that Rand herself would have approved of it, because it makes distinctions which would have horrified her objectivist proprieties. Hence, we find Degutis distinguishing between Christian altruism, which confines itself to the sphere of voluntary relations, with secular altruism, which "is open and limitless, subsuming under its cover all the wretched of the earth." I cannot imagine Rand would have been pleased by the suggestion that some forms of altruism may not after all be evil.


Unknown said...

This article sounds interesting - how would one go about getting ahold of it? Is the JARS available only to subscribers or is it available for view somewhere on the web?

Daniel Barnes said...

HI Dustin

JARS has in the past put some articles online to generate some interest - I had a quick hunt but couldn't find any currently, so I'm not sure it it was an experiment or policy. But yes, I'm interested too.
Meantime I've found another of Degutis's articles online if anyone's interested:

Hannah said...

Hi, I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but since RandZapper

doesn't have comments enabled on his/her blog, and i couldn't find an email address, I wanted to share these 2 links with him, and know you are in contact with him

Daniel Barnes said...

Hi Hannah

Thanks for the links. However, we are not in contact with the mysterious Randzapper in any way. It seems that s/he reads this blog from time to time, and that is about all we know. Your second link reminds me that I really must do a jargon note on the vexed issue of what the referent-in-reality is for the word "Objectivist."

gregnyquist said...

dustin: "This article sounds interesting - how would one go about getting ahold of it? Is the JARS available only to subscribers or is it available for view somewhere on the web?"

No, it's not available on the view on the web. It's subscriber only, or, if you can find somewhere for sale, it goes for $15 an issue. Another possibility is, if you are located near a good university library, to see whether it's carried at that institution.