More notes on “leftism” and the depressive:

Today, in response to this my post on the article, in a group, I got this response:

(Name retracted) “Depression has plagued me many times in my life. Not the idle depression that is confused with sadness, not the manic depression of bipolar in which one’s neuro-chemistry plays a particularly cruel joke of the alternating between no color and entirely too much. No, the clarity of negativity–the negation that enables to me see without too much cynicism–if I am honest, comes from being functionally depressive. In that way, I am the cliche of both the poet and the leftist–different in being driven my analytic thinking but the same in that my emotional understanding comes out of the chairoscuro I am describing. I have been told I have a gift for mapping pain, and also wanting to aid in ending pain. This gift is the one upside to lacking enough sarotin or whatever mild brain dysfunction has meant that I feel emotions differently. Sometimes in a such a way that “I” don’t see the “me” in my own life.”

and I stopped right there.

(Me)  Why is that?

(Name Retracted) me me me me me my life is so interesting and uniqueism. Couldn’t even stick around to see an argument unfold it was too gross. like i have this special kind of mild depression im so different.

I didn’t respond to this well–it was in a “Leftist” forum where people may have wanted to engage on the bottom part, and the part about depression was both focused in on and missed.   The mixture resentiment and daftness that I see among of graduate students on the “Left” often amazes me.  I do not know the background of my interlocutor, but most are upper middle class.  The point of the paragraph that was mocked was in contrast the next paragraph said individual found “too gross” to read:

Yet, the reason why I couldn’t work on my primer today is not “my depression.” As many things in neurochemistry mixed with people of the same class, environment, and emotional resonances, my family–both immediate and not–tends to be depressive.   My intelligence helps me out in this and the fact that I have been lucky.  I have traveled the world: I have a support group, comrades, my partner, my poetry.   While I can’t go into specifics and I won’t name him, one of my brothers has suffered from a much more acute form of depression.  He is currently in a coma.  I do not live anywhere near my family–not even in the same country, and I have tried to understand my own emotions as to where he is at and how he got there.

The focus on me is intellectual. My depression is not mild or special, and my life does not feel interesting to myself. Objectively, however, I know this is wrong. Objectively, I know that I have had a privileged life, but the gray haze that has nearly led my brother to a cold hospital bed in our home town, my brother did not have that.  I can barely make myself get up some mornings when things are good–it’s not special, it’s not unique. I don’t feel special or unique either. It makes me able to see some things clearly, but it takes the color away and the motivation away, and all that left is banal motions.   Objectively, I know this is ungrateful.  I have to overcompensate and talk about me.  It’s too gross.

I have dealt with ultra-leftists, maoists, primitivists, and whatnot for years.   Many of the ultra-leftists, to be frank, have some kind disconnection. Some kind of keen alienation beyond what most people have; even if that alienation is the life-choice of being a graduate student in history.  Self-proclaimed leftists tend to abstract, and while that does not automatically remove decency in most, in some it is an excuse put making personal points ahead of reading what is being said or being fair.  That is not true of all ultra-leftists. It fact it is not true of most, but when it is true, it is often glaringly so.

So no, I am not special.  I am trying to what could be a crushing and crippling condition into something useful for myself and for others.  I realize I have the resources to do that.  For reasons of economics, shit luck, and health, my brother has not of those options.  He has ended up somewhere particularly hellish.  It would take a lack the moral compass to not at some level realize the difference that means and will mean–even if I don’t feel anything special about any of that at all.  IF a self-appointed defender of the proletariat finds that too “gross” to deal with–so gross that they can’t write in fully formed sentences–that’s a lot about where all this concern about subsumption has taken them.  Despite all the edge and the venom, it ends in politics that mean as much as “Liking” a statement “against depression” on a facebook wall.

It is unhealthy to dwell in this.  Little has grown from that branch of history and history is its manifest judge.

 

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7 thoughts on “More notes on “leftism” and the depressive:

  1. I’ve read your blog on and off for a while now, and I must agree with the “leftist” who took you to task for your emotional loading and framing of what are eminently political philosophical and philosophical questions. Whether your focus on your self is intellectual, or masturbatory, the fact is that it is a narrative prop that is extraneous to the purported subject of your ramblings-at least in every case that the said subject is politics. Meaningful political discussion and/or reform do not have anything to do with your unique sentimental perplexes and roving eye for detail; and one need not endorse either their letter or spirit to do serious political thinking.
    Take for instance your incontinent piece on Rawls and the fate of future people in light of currently existing political infrastructure, where you ramble on bathically unaware of the cupidity of your avowed theses, and more importantly incoherently, about how your Mexican students are somehow more intelligent than anyone would assume for subscribing to demonstrably erroneous views about the function of laws and the mechanisms which lend them legitimacy. You go on at length supplying ultimately obfuscatory and illegitimate appeals to sensory details like the hot day and cloudy sky variety which are logically unconnected with the subject under discussion, and the demonstrable purpose of these evocations [or rather equivocations] is always to load and frame a point which stated in form premises, warrants and conclusions collapses into the incoherent mulligatawny of melodrama and psychiatric peculiarities that is your subjective thought process. For you promptly extract from these bad-cheques a full payment in terms of a conclusion unwarranted by the premises and warrants offered; namely that the psychological immaturity and civic ignorance of school-going mexicans somehow provide a warrant for the dubious claim that our legal system is broken.

    I say this is demonstrable because one can at least show why none of these unique perspectival observations and gnomic midrash-magical justifications with which you pepper your occasionally insightful political commentary with deliver on the explanatory miracles you ascribe to them. Consequently, I sympathize with your antagonist inasmuch as he repudiates, rejects and demands better than emotional whining and rhetorically loaded non-sequiturs from you when you purport to talk politics and defend the indefensible with nothing but the missing moderating influence of an epistemic modesty you do not possess holding you back.

    • Do I ascribe explanatory miracles to them? What was indefensible?

      “namely that the psychological immaturity and civic ignorance of school-going mexicans somehow provide a warrant for the dubious claim that our legal system is broken.”

      Again, is my students option all what I am claiming evidence for my position?

      “Meaningful political discussion and/or reform do not have anything to do with your unique sentimental perplexes and roving eye for detail”

      Neither did I say they did. Nor what that the claim made. The claim was to separate political melancholia and depression. Not to generate some kind holistic rubric which depression somehow magically generates. It doesn’t. The point is that this is a false clarity created from a perspective that oversees contrasts and undersees
      development.

      • Do I ascribe explanatory miracles to them?
        Yes, you prop up your apologias with anecdote and circumstantial detail as if that were enough to remove the burden of showing why future persons are deserving of legislation protective of their interests.

        What was indefensible?

        It was indefensible in every instance to introduce scenic, circumstantial, and psychological details, like it was a muggy day, or these kids come from low-income families, or that poor people are a measure of how the law functions. These statements and their like have no evidential connection with the questions of political philosophy tout court. Each of these suggestive veins of equivocation, which you have bled into one article or another, fail to provide warrant for philosophical conclusions about the nature of law, its legitimacy, or efficacy. For, the first sort of non sequitur in your political pieces, i.e. ‘it was hot and muggy’, plays on the loading effect of language to create emotional resonance where what is needed is evidential warrant. The second sort of aberration against mental hygiene, i.e. ‘these kids come from poor families’, makes out of descriptions of states of affairs a political mandate about what others ought to do; no such entailment is tenable unless you also believe that everyone is obliged to everyone else in a legally enforceable way . The third sort of infelicity in your political writing I’d point to, i.e. poor people are the measure of the efficacy of government, transposes emotivism [and the will to be a do-gooder] to the level of a sufficient reason for or against a course of action which will influence many more than any set of oppressed you may mention in an essay.

        “The claim was to separate political melancholia and depression.”

        How is this a claim? Where I come from claims are declarative sentences describing attainable states of affairs, or enjoining the reader to attain them. But how the hell is one to separate ‘political melancholia’ if there is such a thing other than a febrile and loaded term which lacks a target referent from ‘depression’ which is a mental illness? Furthermore, to what end is this separation to be prosecuted when it remains moot that your idiosyncratic dwelling on personal mental events is in any way relevant to the gamut of premises and conclusions available to a political/ philosophical topic.

      • “Yes, you prop up your apologias with anecdote and circumstantial detail as if that were enough to remove the burden of showing why future persons are deserving of legislation protective of their interests. ”

        Deserving? Or possible in a real way? I never used a moral term. For some complaining about apologias and loading, you are assuming both the position you hold circularly and unclaimed, and reading a moral position onto me. Which, by the way, is against the heuristic of charity when dealing with an “argument.” My “argument” is horribly flawed, and I will get to why in a second, but this is a sneaky bit of rhetoric here wearing the clothes of modesty. Which, while attacking someone else’s “lack of epistemic modesty”, is more than a little “problematic”

        “These statements and their like have no evidential connection with the questions of political philosophy tout court. ”

        You are using a very strict set of logical criterion for an “argument” for that isn’t actually a developed argument in a strict philosophical mood. You are condemning a mixing of ways of thinking because they muddy each other: fine. The strict logical criterion of my claim would beyond sophistic loading, something you are doing at the moment in the flowery language you insult me with without actually stating what you are defending. Just what you are critiquing. Given that this is something I see problematic in my own prior writing on the topic, I sympathetic to your frustration with me here. However, you imply that I am just discounting the law and do so is a form of epistemic hubris. Fine. What are your baseline assumptions as to what that means?

        The problem is that I do not see the evidence, historically, for the ability for legislation to coherently protect future people in such a context.

        “How is this a claim? Where I come from claims are declarative sentences describing attainable states of affairs, or enjoining the reader to attain them. ”

        Actually, attainability has not a criterion in a claim. You are asking me to have written something you would have written and chastising me for my myopia when the problems of myopia was the point and I was self-implicating. That is a far different and claim than chastising me for emotive loading.

        ” Furthermore, to what end is this separation to be prosecuted when it remains moot that your idiosyncratic dwelling on personal mental events is in any way relevant to the gamut of premises and conclusions available to a political/ philosophical topic.”

        Actually, it is the beginning of processing what is idiosyncratic to me and what is a result of a fatalistic and overdetermined take on politics. Since this is not a formal deductive argument on political philosophy, or even an abductive statement of political philosophy, but an attempt at induction through reflection, and a means for clarification like in a traditional personal essay, you are chastising me as much for the genre of my argument as for any other reason. The logical validity of such an inductive understanding is ALWAYS questionable: something I am actually acutely aware of.

        However, for someone how takes such an issue with loading, you do a lot of argument through adjectives (febrile, idiosyncratic) and implied indignation at lack of logical rigor because of emotive loading. An irony that is not lost on me. You assuming an entire epistemic framework, ignoring the genre and categories I was working in which are not entirely from that frame as if they were categories I invented and were not in political philosophic discourse (political melancholia is from a continental use of psychoanalysis, which you may take issue with). That is a very different complaint–and frankly not entirely legitimate by the very logical rigor you are chastising me for–than the sloppiness of mixing personal and analytic arguments and not staying a real positive thesis in the Rawl’s piece which particularly seems to have irked you.

        Obviously, unless you truly are just trolling, you apparently see something worth chastising me for as it implies that you think more rigor through separation of types of argument would help me do more philosophical philosophy. Otherwise, you are just being an ass to voice your opinion. It makes no sense to criticize those whom you think couldn’t do better, but for me truly get that I must understand, other than implied claim that the legal system of a (semi?) bourgeois state-or perhaps a particular state, Mexico–is more legitimate and I am just hand-waving it off. But that is would not just be because of my idiosyncratic differences with you in this regard, it would also imply deep ideological divide to which I am blind to the other side starting premises.

  2. ‘What are your baseline assumptions as to what that means? ‘

    My baseline assumptions are: Political constituencies get the governments the electorate deserves. The word ‘deserve’ here serves a technical purpose, namely, to indicate the distinction between those who have franchise and those who don’t have franchise [for any reasons whatsoever]. Those who have franchise are responsible for exercising it so as to elect a regime they find agreeable, and reciprocally the government is obliged to serve the mandate endorsed by the deserving electorate [i.e. those who have franchise]. But, only those who have franchise can hold the government accountable as the latter is obliged only to the former’s vote for agreeable governance. The government is not obliged to those who cannot exercise their franchise for any reason whatsoever. What this means for your Rawlsian post, pleading for legislation in favour of inexistent citizens, is that since future citizens don’t vote they have no franchise, and consequently the government is not responsible for them unless taking on such responsibility towards future people is itself part of the existing electorate’s mandate. But if this is not the case then the case for future people friendly legislation lacks political motivation, furthermore it lacks democratic motivation in the sense that citizens capable of franchise fail to make this part of their mandate.

    ‘The problem is that I do not see the evidence, historically, for the ability for legislation to coherently protect future people in such a context.’

    I contest, of course, that this is not a problem at all. It is a misunderstanding of the responsibilities of the government to its electorate; as future people do not exist, and a mandate for the benefit of future people fails to find majority expression in the franchise exercised by existing electorates, legislative bodies have never been and still are not responsible for non-existent electorates, or the up-keep of non-existing mandates of existing electorates.

    ‘Actually, attainability has not a criterion in a claim.’

    Actually I may have failed to get my point across here. What I *intended* to claim was that claims are sentences that are either true or false about something, or that they are capable of being proved wrong or right at some point in time. In any case the fault is mine, for failing to get the point across.
    ‘The logical validity of such an inductive understanding is ALWAYS questionable: something I am actually acutely aware of.’

    I was not aware that you admitted at all that these ruminations were inductive speculations rather than arguments-for your position; but in my defence you seemed awfully certain of the cogency of your claims, which to someone not privy to your, as you admit personal, typologies and terminologies, seem arrogant in the extreme. I stand corrected however, after learning about your tentative attitudes towards claims you make on here.

    ‘for someone how takes such an issue with loading, you do a lot of argument through adjectives (febrile, idiosyncratic) and implied indignation at lack of logical rigor because of emotive loading. An irony that is not lost on me. You assuming an entire epistemic framework, ignoring the genre and categories I was working in which are not entirely from that frame as if they were categories I invented and were not in political philosophic discourse (political melancholia is from a continental use of psychoanalysis, which you may take issue with). That is a very different complaint–and frankly not entirely legitimate by the very logical rigor you are chastising me for–than the sloppiness of mixing personal and analytic arguments and not staying a real positive thesis in the Rawl’s piece which particularly seems to have irked you.’

    I agree, and take full responsibility for these argumentative failings. I hope that my previous comments will substantiate my position more convincingly, as I have tried to remedy just these issue with my comments so far.

    ‘Obviously, unless you truly are just trolling, you apparently see something worth chastising me for as it implies that you think more rigor through separation of types of argument would help me do more philosophical philosophy.’

    Yes, I do think that some of your claims are more defensible than some of your other claims, and that separating them will go a long way to induce persuasion [whether rational or rhetorical] in an audience.

    As for the ‘implied claim that the legal system of a (semi?) bourgeois state-or perhaps a particular state, Mexico–is more legitimate and I am just hand-waving it off. But that is would not just be because of my idiosyncratic differences with you in this regard,. it would also imply deep ideological divide to which I am blind to the other side starting premises.’

    I contend that any state where the regime is elected into power by a captive franchise-bearing population is by definition, stricto sensu, legitimate. And I invite you to demonstrate otherwise without appealing to premises or warrants which are not already included in the electoral values dominant in the states [as shown by the explicit/implicit policies effective in those states] whose legislative legitimacy you purport to challenge

    • “I contend that any state where the regime is elected into power by a captive franchise-bearing population is by definition, stricto sensu, legitimate. ”

      Given that this statement is axiomatic, it is not refutable, but also since it is axiomatic it has to be accepted by both parties as a definition for discourse on the subject to start.

      My differences here on this are not just “idiosyncratic”: I do not think that a captive population with franchise-bearing rights is enough to establish anything like a concept of “legitimacy” as that presumes that one) legitimacy is the solely the technical function of majoritarian will within an enfranchised population, but also that the actions of this institution. Two) That electoral representation of the government even if that government is unpopular in enacting said majoritarian will is itself enough grounds for polity, and three) the legitimacy of nation states could be so isolated from the “legitimacy” of the institutions which support that state through taxes merely by electing representatives.

      However, I will admit that I cannot contest your premise on your grounds. It is not contestable in that way, you have axiomatically defined legitimacy, which does give it much more meaning that the loose usage I had (and regret using), but cannot be argued against since it is definitional in your assertion. If the break-down is along definitions, the world views can barely talk to each other.

      I, however, do see your point in regards to the Rawls essay: the switching between categories was problematic because that was a political reflection and the mode of discourse I choose to engage that with is basically bad pool, and not particularly useful.

      “What this means for your Rawlsian post, pleading for legislation in favour of inexistent citizens, is that since future citizens don’t vote they have no franchise, and consequently the government is not responsible for them unless taking on such responsibility towards future people is itself part of the existing electorate’s mandate. ”

      Ah, I actually did not develop this problem: I was elaborating off of a paper given the Aristotle’s society arguing that from a Rawlsian pragmatic starting point, this is problematic since the current population has a claim on the resources of the future population. Perhaps there is a way within such a democratic discourse to create such a mandate, but as a claim of morality, which is inexplicit in Rawls (not me), you get into a two competing spheres of thinking with dealing with this both “democratically” and “pragmatically” with not real formal way to adjudicate between the two.

      This point was OBVIOUSLY completely lost in my personalization of the topic, which does go to your point about my muddling things up.

    • Also, this is not a point that could have come out of the “its too gross” discourse it was not articulated enough for anyone to get there. So while I can see your sympathies with my antagonist could come out of this, that kind of “I can’t even read this response” could not have gotten productive from that point.

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