Spinoza on the Masses & Treason (was Re: Baruch and Hobbesy, freedom of speech, etc.)

Eric Beck rayrena at accesshub.net
Thu Mar 23 10:59:24 PST 2000

Yoshie wrote:

>Spinoza's argument against fanaticism is in part motivated by the fear of
>the masses & of their demand for economic justice:

You know, Yoshie, I don't have the time or attention right now to respond to all the stuff about Spinoza that you've misread, purposefully distorted, or just plain made up, but I gotta address this. It's obvious to me that your reading--or at least your interpretation--of Spinoza is second hand. And that's fine: we can't read everything, and we all look to other writers for guidance and insight. But because you have a shallow, one-dimensional understanding of Spinoza, your lack of nuanced thought and your overeager desire to condemn causes you to write statements like the above. Such statements make you sound like a complete ass. I mean, I'm all for unambiguous expression, and even deliberate provocation, but when that stands in the way of reality and reasonable thought, it becomes a problem. Just as your all-over-the-map quoting and habit of changing the topic of conversation on a whim makes sustained discussion impossible.

>It is interesting that our contemporary philosophers are creating something
>of a Spinoza renaissance, but the politics attributed to the born-again
>Spinoza -- who becomes, in the hands of Eugene Holland for instance, a
>patron saint of grassroots micro-politics & Spinozian Marxism -- bears
>little resemblance to what Spinoza actually stood for.

And your Hobbes bears little resemblance to what Hobbes actually stood for. So what? It's called "interpretation," and you do it even with Marx (eg, your differences with him over free speech).


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