Responds

Rorty, Richard

I do not see why Steven Lukes thinks that the left's "pursuit of a commitment [to fighting injustice] . . . can be recognized only because it has advanced successive but distinctive visions or...

...We may also wish to deduce their desirability from a suitably constructed philosophical definition of "justice...
...For example: The cotton doesn't have to be picked by slaves, it could be done for wages...
...I do not see why Steven Lukes thinks that the left's "pursuit of a commitment [to fighting injustice] . . . can be recognized only because it has advanced successive but distinctive visions or theories of justice and of the structure of power that made clear in what injustice consists and who were weak or why...
...So did the nineteenth-century abolitionists...
...The women's movement in the United States (not to be confused with academic feminism) got along nicely without such a synoptic vision...
...boys and girls could split the money available for education...
...Surely our sense of injustice is sufficiently roused by the simple thought, "Things don't have to be this way...
...Presumably they will form 264 DISSENT Arguments coalitions, just as do priests and tyrants, steel magnates and beef barons, insurance lobbyists and drug-company lobbyists...
...After we have envisaged a number of such possible changes, we can, for convenience of discussion, group a lot of them under a blanket phrase like "promoting equality of lifechances" or "ending the money-power...
...All that profit doesn't have to go into luxuries for the owner's family...
...Such intellectuals seem to me like priests who think that effective aid to the widow and the orphan requires getting a clear conception of the duty of Charity, and of the structure of satanic power...
...I should have thought that it has always been a lot clearer who the weak are, and who is trying to improve their lot, than what justice consists in, or what structure power has...
...But I should insist that a lot of leftist intellectuals still think that a synoptic vision of what is going on, with a sweep comparable to Marxism's, is a necessary propaedeutic to effective political action...
...they could be that way instead...
...q SPRING 1995 265...
...I see definitions of justice as ways of bundling concrete proposals together, rather than as justifications for, or incitements to formulate, such proposals...
...Daughters don't have to stay home while sons go off to be educated...
...But I think that even in the absence of such phrases and such definitions, something reasonably called a "left" would, in every age, have been easily recognizable...
...But I do not think such coalitions need be based on "distinctive visions or theories" that make common interests evident...
...I think that many intellectuals on the left still feel lost without such a vision, and that they cannot get the sort of vision they want without dreaming up the sort of grand recit about the movement of history that both Lukes and I find unnecessary...
...Nothing I say in my article suggests that "feminists, anti-racists, environmentalists, gay-rights activists, civil rights groups, prison reformers," and the like should "go their separate ways...
...I certainly agree with Lukes that being on the left does not "require you to be devoted to intellectual or political self-promotion, utopian fantasy, monism," and the like...
...some of it could be distributed to the workers' families...
...I do not think something new was invented at Versailles in August 1789...

Vol. 42 • April 1995 • No. 2


 
Developed by
Kanda Software
  Kanda Software, Inc.