At the end of this May, I’m taking part in a Common Ground Conference for the first time in five years. I'm presenting part of a long-running project I have gestating with my occasional collaborator Steve Fuller – reviews and reactions to the latest book by Ted Kaczynski.
Yeah, that Ted Kaczynski. The Unabomber. Probably the only genuinely murderous ecoterrorist who’s ever lived. He’s put out a guidebook on how to build a Leninist vanguard organization for an anti-technology revolution.
Kaczynski’s book is a vibrant hybrid of sober analysis and ruthless extremism that, when you think about its content and the mind-set that could have produced it, is terrifying. Just what a prophet for a Leninist vanguard should be, really.
|Rembrandt van Rijn's The Philosopher Contemplates. My apartment
is a bit more spacious than this guy's, though.
I didn’t write that book just to put a shiny bullet point on a CV, even when I was making my career in the academic sector. I wrote it so that people would read it, and I’d contribute a little to the enlightenment of humanity. The kind of thing we need a little of at the moment.
But I think my research for Utopias will revisit the classics a little. I want to go back to some books by Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel, and John Locke. Having researched the criticisms of modern reactionary liberalism, I want to return to the roots of liberal thinking. Searching for what the reactionaries see, as well as the value of the tradition to real freedom.
Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe make a solid observation about freedom. Freedom is about optimizing your abilities and becoming all that you can be. It isn’t just a matter of not being coerced by government or other members of your community. That idea exists in liberalism – it’s how John Stuart Mill twisted John Locke.
Before I get into the twistier ideas about how humanity engages with its own becoming in time, I’ll spend a little more of 2017 delving into this problem – What’s the virtue of a liberalism that’s become so corrupted by a justification of oligarchy and immature joy in wealth and privilege?
I also want to get You Were My Friend the film finally made, and I’m pretty sure I have a handle on getting a crew together. But I’m probably going to end up directing it myself. Hiring a skilled cinematographer, working with a co-producer who’s more familiar with the details of the industry than me, and directing it my damn self.
We’ll see how it all goes. Happy new year, everyone.