Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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October 19, 2007
why I blog so rarely, pt. V

My work consists of two parts: the one presented here plus all that I have not written. And it is precisely this second part that is the important one.
Wittgenstein, in a letter to Ludwig [von] Ficker, in late 1919.

The above quote, and a bit of its original context, can be found, among other places, in Janik & Toulmin's great Wittgenstein’s Vienna, and on-line here.

Replace "work" with "blog."

[update 11/30/07:

Someone may object:

By the above post, TiR means to equate this silly blog with the work of Wittgenstein, in terms of its importance, brilliance, genius or whatever.

On the contrary. To make clear: The post's spirit was quite the opposite.

The first someone may then respond:
But TiR should have offered the clarification or "response" to the objection in advance. The objection is so obvious that TiR should have seen it coming. In fact, TiR's failure to offer its supposed clarification preemptively is proof that TiR is acting in bad faith and, thus, the first objection is correct. The foregoing is proof that nothing TiR says can or will ever again be trusted.

The above "proof" seems to exist in a world in which Wittgenstein's prsumption in favor of silence quickly breaks down, and carries no weight.

And how far would such a breakdown extend? How many other potential objections or accusations is a blogger, or writer, or speaker, or actor, or anyone, expected to anticipate and address, before the accusation is even made?

Someone might argue, "All of them. Every objection. Every accusation."

This would mean a mandatory, ever-expanding space of preemptive clarification and self-defense radiating outward from every utterance, every action, suppressing any surrounding silence.

& why not? In fact, someone may argue:
Such is the nature of the world we now live in.

In a world of secrecy, surveillance and paranoia on all sides
(typified by, e.g.:
"preemptive" wars of purported self-defense

rampant claims of executive privilege

use of anonymous government leaks & innunendo as a payback tool

court filings that are increasingly sealed and beyond public review

unnamed accusers

unnamed accused (e.g., enemy combatants)

undisclosed rendition flights

legislators who are expected to sign off of budgets and laws that they are thwarted from reviewing in advance

secret evidence, and

accusations so secret that even the accuser is not allowed to see them)

           that such a "guilty until proven innocent" principle is the New Normal. & --

This New Normal principle rightly should extend to every area of our social & mental life.

The principle restated:
Everyone should consider themselves accused at all times. Any accusation not anticipated and refuted in advance of its being made will be deemed an admission of guilt. This applies even to the accusations that are the most attenuated, tangential, minute, unlikely, outlandish, incomprehensible, incoherent and astonishing ones.

Tne principle restated stated even more simply:
Anything you do not say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

In the political realm, one corollary might be:
Agents of state power/the ruling class always have/has absolute rights to silence, but no one else has any, ever.

Wittgenstein's statement in his letter to Ficker seems, in its own little way, to provide a piece of conceptual ammunition to stand against that.]