disinterested science

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Thu Jul 30 09:13:44 PDT 1998

Doyle Saylor wrote:

>Max Sawicky has started replying to people who call him a beltway
>inhabitent with Max's own brand of name calling. Max called Doug a
>beatnik from New York. In some sense name calling is about taking a
>magic power to characterize reality from someone whom one targets I
>suppose. But Max can't you just relie upon the truth of the work you
>cite, and let go of things like Doug or anyone calling you a beltway
>denizen. We all have to occupy some piece of the landscape. That
>doesn't mean it determines things for us, it just means it influences
>us, and we are free to leave those influences behind, or not. Surely
>calling Doug a beatnik is not dignified for you.

Ah, Max can call me whatever he wants, even a reformist or a petit bourgeois exploiter of youthful labor.

I meant the Beltway characterization not as a personal slur, but to point out the constraints that come from operating within the realm of power. People go to Washington with all sorts of good intentions, and after a few years they end up talking the most amazing mush. It's kind of inevitable given the institutional structure, and dare I say it, the discursive limits of DC. Politics gets reduced to forced choices between unattractive binaries (Dem or Rep? Gephardt or Wellstone? House version or Senate version?). The desire to be part of the conversation means that you conform to the dominant discourse, when the point should be to challenge all those assumptions. So the whole "debate" on Soc Sec is reduced to fighting over the details of privatization. You just have to conform, or no one will take you seriously.


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