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Givin’ it up to the GForce

GForce, of course, being the alter ego of one Graham Larkin, humanities fellow at Stanford University and professor of art history.  This diffident blog salutes Larkin not merely for penning the exquisite phrase, “this is classic Horowitziana — a complete lie mired in a mighty river of bullshit,” but for his whole essay, sure to be read in the weeks and months to come as the definitive word on the subject.  Highly recommended!

And while I’m looking over some of Larkin’s concluding paragraphs—

By lying about the AAUP, Horowitz hopes to divert readers from the fact that this fine organization came out categorically against all university speech codes in a resolution approved in 1992. That document, reprinted in AAUP’s fully-indexed Redbook, unambiguously asserts that “[o]n a campus that is free and open, no idea can be banned or forbidden,” and that “rules that ban or punish speech based upon its content cannot be justified.”

Why is Horowitz so eager to make us think that the AAUP actually supports speech codes and “political thought police”? Mainly so he can then construe their reasoned resistance to his efforts to police knowledge and relativize truth as an unreasonable affront to student liberty. This rhetorical inversion of the truth is part of the larger strategy of doublespeak that leads him to couch his coercive speech legislation in the language of freedom and diversity, as if it were some kind of newly fortified version of the First Amendment.

-- I figure this might be as good a time as any to announce that I’ve recently been elected to the National Council of the AAUP.  A fine organization, indeed.

Posted by on 04/27 at 07:21 AM
  1. from the essay…

    “The only honorable way to combat Horowitz’s bullshit is by fully repudiating his modus operandi, and depending instead on the very wits, arguments and refutations that the Leninists repudiate.”

    But this doesn’t work unless you can also bring to bear the critical aspect of the busllshitter’s arsenal: volume.  The proof is the result of the last elections in which many outlets were regularly and definitively repudiating the lies and bullshit yet the public was (and is) still profoundly misinformed because the cries of truth were drowned in the vast ocean of bullshit.  Until the truth sayers command sufficient broadcast volume to overcome the bullshit, we are lost.  The lynch pins are the “main stream media” (i.e., the portion of the media that still genuinely pretends to objectivity, however inept) and the politicians, who timidly refuse to label a lie as a lie.  How different would the debates have gone if Kerry had called the lies as they appeared.  I believe he would have achieved more by saying “that’s a lie” than he did by simply stating the truth.  Reagan is remembered for “there you go again” rather than the subject he was addressing at the time.

    Posted by  on  04/27  at  09:52 AM
  2. And who said art historians were good for nothin’?  I’m calling the guys at Car Talk to get them to revise their position on the field.  (Longtime listeners know their disdain for our fine discipline.)

    Thanks for this link! Brilliant!

    Posted by  on  04/27  at  09:54 AM
  3. Graham’s wonderful.

    Posted by Sherman Dorn  on  04/27  at  12:24 PM
  4. "I figure this might as good a time as any to announce that I’ve recently been elected to the National Council of the AAUP.  A fine organization, indeed.”

    Congratulations, sincerely.

    Posted by David Ross McIrvine  on  04/27  at  12:41 PM
  5. Congratulations on your election and thanks for the Larkin link. Wai’s comment is well taken.

    Posted by  on  04/27  at  01:31 PM
  6. Where has this man (G. Larkin) been all my life?
    Thank-you, Michael, for the link.

    “classic Horowitziana” made my day; my only regret, Stravinsky didn’t live to write the score, nor Balanchine to choreograph the ballet.

    Connecting Horowitz to Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit” is brilliant; and my nerve endings are still grooving to the beat of “liar extraordinaire and author of the incomparable bullshitting manual...”

    Larkin’s perceptions are key to understanding what’s going on in Horowitz’s writings - the attack on the very notion of systematic rational discourse, and on the notion of an objective reality that is capable of being apprehended through rational analysis - both crucial in understanding the power of right-wing rhetoric: Bullshitting is propoganda, propoganda is bullshitting. Brilliant. That’s the key to Bush, too, I think. I’ve always felt that he isn’t aware of lying; that he’s insufficiently evolved to know the difference between truth and lies, while his grandiosity tells him that “reality” can be dispensed with in pursuit of a bold reworking of whatever doesn’t seem sufficiently right to Bush and his mentors.

    Wai, complete agreement with you on the problem of density and volume; the right-wing in this country has the biggest damn wurlitzer. I wonder what would have happened if Kerry had just said, in response to some of Bush’s more outrageous comments, “that’s bullshit, and the President and Mr. Rove know it’s bullshit?”

    Anyone, do length of comments put stress on bandwidth? Or is it just how many people are reading or commenting at the same time?

    Posted by Leah A  on  04/27  at  04:21 PM
  7. SneakySnu,

    Hey, wait, just because Graham is brilliant on D.Ho or Giotto doesn’t mean he can tune a Toyota!

    Posted by A. G.  on  04/27  at  04:35 PM
  8. Hey, wait, just because Graham is brilliant on D.Ho or Giotto doesn’t mean he can tune a Toyota!

    Now we know what we do during the day now, Tommy!  You blew your cover!

    Posted by  on  04/27  at  05:27 PM
  9. In regard to Wai’ comment: Voinivich, who had expressed his unsettledness with the Bolton nomination, was inundated with thousands of emails and phone calls from the minions of the faithful led by an anti-UN group dumping a few million dollars into television commercials in Ohio.  Combating DaHo and all of his supporters requires access to the same media to which he has free access, and to which his peers can use their millions to buy time to dispense their bullshit and lies.

    It takes money to turn up the volume.  Larkin’s criticisms, along with Michael’s, encourages all of us to raise our voices, and is of incredible value.  How we get it to the greater citizenry is a bit more difficult.  I still think the radio network is a great way to do it.

    Congrats on the election to the National Council, although i am sure DaHo will see that as something sinister and communist.

    Posted by  on  04/27  at  07:39 PM
  10. Congrats on the election to the National Council, although i am sure DaHo will see that as something sinister and communist.

    I was kind of hoping for that, actually.

    Posted by Michael  on  04/27  at  08:30 PM
  11. "I was kind of hoping for that, actually.”

    My very thought as I was filling in the ballot. Appreciate the link, and I do hope you give D Ho some nightmares--

    Posted by  on  04/27  at  08:47 PM
  12. Hey people. Dr. Force here.

    Thanks for all the kind words. But enough already; really, it’s embarrassing.

    I’m feeling far more optimistic than spyder about the possibility of getting things done without a big budget. I’ve learned that you can accomplish a great deal, in a matter of months, with a series of well-sourced, content-rich web essays and the right connections. And you can really throw the likes of D. Ho for a loop by steadfastly resisting his two-sided
    Lakoffian worldview, for which I criticized him relentlessly from the get-go (Do check those links, especially the first one.)

    Perhaps I’ll share some detailed Ho-bashing tactics in the near future, in an appropriate venue. In the meantime, let me add that if you want to throw some money at a political problem, don’t waste it on cripplingly expensive air time on Big Media, even if you’re George Soros. You’ll get a heck of a lot more bang for your comparatively meager buck by investing it in something infrastructural, such as the parsimonious & impecunious AAUP, which is fighting the Ho’s ABOR tooth & nail in the nation’s legislatures.

    So in celebration of Michael’s nomination (and in order to get the sweetest of all revenge against D. Ho), I urge All Eleven Readers (oh wait--one of those was Michael; well, what the heck) to help swell the coffers & ranks of that venerable organization by signing up or donating here.

    And tell’em GForce sent you.

    This has been an unpaid political announcement.

    Posted by GForce  on  04/27  at  09:33 PM
  13. Congrats, Michael.  I’m sure the 10% off at Western Sizzlin’ will come in handy.

    Posted by corndog  on  04/27  at  09:54 PM
  14. Hello Mr. Force - Oaktown Girl here. First things first: Go Bears!  Now that that’s out of the way, second: I just read your link to the scathing indictment of George Lakoff’s book. Comedian Marc Maron has a very funny bit on this topic. I can’t convey it like he does, of course, but the gist is something like this:

    While the Republicans have spent the last 35 years on a non-stop crusade to take over every aspect of the media, the government, and our personal lives while fleecing the poor and middle class so the richest one-tenth of one percent can get richer, the response by liberals is to sit in coffee shops huddled over lattes clutching our copies of George Layoff’s “Don’t Think of an Elephant”. 

    It’s funny the way he tells it.

    Anyway...you want money for what now?

    Posted by  on  04/28  at  12:23 AM
  15. Whore-Whizz doesn’t want intellectual freedom, he wants state imposed rules. For hime, a police state seems to be the answer to any problem, whether he argues it from the left or right. This is the only thing he has been consistant about. That and being clinically insane.

    Posted by  on  04/28  at  09:58 AM
  16. Did David Horowitz really write his first book at the age of eleven?

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/Content/read.asp?ID=27

    “Bibliography of the Writings of David Horowitz, 1951-2003

    BOOKS
    Student: The Political Activities of the Berkeley Students, Ballantine, 1962”

    Posted by  on  04/28  at  10:20 AM
  17. I hear you, Oaktown Girl

    And not just ‘cause the Bears kick ass. For more laffs at the expense of Lakoff liberals, check out Nation of Rebels by fellow Canucks Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter. Heavily indebted to the musings of Thomas Frank, it’s the most comprehensive deflation to date of the countercultural myth that got America’s supposed progressives into the mess they’re in.

    The times they are certainly a changin’…

    Posted by GForce  on  04/28  at  10:45 AM
  18. Oaktown Girl and GForce...what is a Lakoff liberal? I don’t get it. Though I would agree that conservatives are making hay using relativism to debunk the claims of science that they don’t agree with, the ones I see doing it are trying to substitute an absolutist position based in faith. However, I would argue that conservatives who critique the science behind evolution, global warming, etc. are using subjectivism...not relativism as the basis of their critique…

    Posted by  on  04/28  at  11:05 AM
  19. GForce:  The only honorable way to combat Horowitz’s bullshit is by fully repudiating his modus operandi, and depending instead on the very wits, arguments and refutations that the Leninists repudiate. Indeed, these methods prove optimal for exposing any number of Horowitzian techniques, ranging from cooked statistics, race-baiting and guilt by association to editorial foul play and baffling logorrhea.

    On the other hand, fight fire with fire.  Do you really think logic, reason and careful statistical analysis have a bleeping chance against rush, hannity and the blond bimbo(blimbo?)?

    Posted by deb  on  04/28  at  01:20 PM
  20. Larry (#18), I can really do better than guide you to the explosion of the Counterculture Myth in Nation of Rebels. In this very important book (which I have yet to finish reading) Heath & Potter allow us to see how the Bush vs. Kerry pseudo-dichotomy--the idea of a Grand Struggle of Opposing Worldviews--is merely an extension of the enduring, essentializing, mutually-reassuring, myth of Counterculture vs. Mainstream Culture.

    David Horowitz has bought into this fiction all along, even though he switched sides halfway through his life by grandly repudiating the Counterculture Worldview and embracing a no-less-clunky notion of Mainstream Conservatism as the Truly Authentic Position.

    The problem, as Heath & Potter so eloquently demonstrate, is that this binary model of the cultural universe is a chimera. Horowitz’s abandonment of Kitsch Marxism will remain meaningless until he abandons the underpinning Kitsch Hegelianism. But he’ll never do that, since that would put him (and Lakoff, and--with all due respect--Marx) permanently out of business. It would open the door to real political change, as opposed to unavailing fantasies of détournement.

    Another nice object lesson in Hegelian symbiosis is Louis Menand’s analysis of Jerry Falwell and Larry Flynt, reprinted as “Lust in Action” in his American Studies. Like Horowitz and Lakoff, those two keep each other in business.

    I would welcome additions to this reading list.

    Posted by GForce  on  04/28  at  01:57 PM
  21. Do you really think logic, reason and careful statistical analysis have a bleeping chance against rush, hannity and the blond bimbo(blimbo?)?

    Yep. D. Ho is already going down.

    Posted by GForce  on  04/28  at  02:02 PM
  22. from DaHo’s very own personal Ann Coulter wannabe and FrontPage darling, Debbie Schlussel:

    “ ... It’s time to stop worshipping at the alter [sic] of this false heroine. There are plenty of young American men and women ... who’ve been brutalized or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But none of them got the ... coverage that Ruzicka got--unless they were anally raped or ... played pro football. That should tell you ... about the media’s outlook ... : American soldiers fighting for freedom--bad; vociferous activist bimbette ... --very, very good. While it’s a sad day when any American gets killed by Islamic terrorists, it’s measurably less sad when that American aided and abetted them ... For Marla Ruzicka, some might call it, poetic justice.”

    I couldn’t resist posting this since she uses Deb’s(#19) bimbo phrase in a new way.. but it also gets to GForce’s underlying premise that as a whole, efforts such as Schussel’s and DaHo’s are more representative of their flailing into obscurity than in their diligence to oppress.

    Posted by  on  04/28  at  02:52 PM
  23. OOPS

    My comment #20 should begin “… I can really do no better ...”

    Posted by GForce  on  04/28  at  03:59 PM
  24. THE FLOODGATES REOPEN

    And now, be sure to miss D. Ho’s 5,000-word response to a few lines of my article (to which he had, in effect, already replied). One can only wonder how many words it would have taken him to refute my accusation about his ”baffling logorrhea”.

    For Jerry Springer fans, I also recommend the ensuing discussion thread. In addition to a really uncharitable critique of Francisco de Goya, it includes (near the beginning, if it’s still there) a most enlightening message from the intrepid censor RobertaL (presumably FP hack Roberta Leguizamon). Mistress Roberta warns us, in no uncertain terms, that she is prepared to remove comments “advocating the annihilation of over billion people around the globe for their faith” or, uh, other things she thinks we really don’t need to hear.

    Thanks for keepin’ it real, FrontPage!

    Posted by GForce  on  04/29  at  04:19 PM
  25. David Horowitz:  Is it feasible for professors to keep the political opinions and prejudices they hold as private citizens out of the classroom? Why not? I attended school for 19 years from kindergarten to the graduate level, where I received my M.A. 43 years ago at the University of California, Berkeley. In all that time I do not remember a single teacher or a single professor on a single occasion in any classroom make one political comment, or reveal their political prejudices. If the teachers of my generation could be that professional, so can the teachers of this.

    Maybe you just have a bad memory, David.  You’re no spring chicken.  Lemme get this straight - economics professors aren’t allowed to say that market-based systems of exchange tend to work better than government-controlled ones?  They have to be neutral between communism and capitalism?

    It might be inappropriate to discuss politically charged issues in an organic chemistry class.  But almost every social science (psychology, economics, political science, sociology, anthropology) touches on political issues.

    The idea that professors should teach in a “value-free” way is so delusionally outdated and inconsistent with the findings of cognitive science that I wonder where this guy’s head has been buried in the half century since he left Berkeley.

    Posted by south(west)paw  on  04/29  at  06:14 PM
  26. Ah, that Chairman Ho. He so funny. Good smack down, G.

    Posted by The Critic  on  04/29  at  09:24 PM
  27. Hilarious.  I don’t know if yall read through the comments, but this one is my personal favorite:

    “Berube’s a girly-man radical
    ‘see Michael Berube’s blog for a lot of good stuff on Horowitz’

    If M. Berube had any real talent and gumption, he’d quit academia, and join the masses in the struggle. Another girly-man radical-wannabe with a million-dollar public-sector pension, who’s totally full of B.S., viz. Mr. W.L. Churchill.

    -Vietnam vet on 25% disability”

    Could not be funnier

    “Million-dollar public-sector pension”
    He must be counting the pencils and pens you steal from the office.

    Posted by V  on  04/30  at  04:10 PM
  28. Another girly-man radical-wannabe with a million-dollar public-sector pension, who’s totally full of B.S., viz. Mr. W.L. Churchill.

    I’m a manly-girl radical-wannabe with a much more measly public-sector pension. And I think W.L. Churchill was right on.

    And why is a leftie prof full of BS, just because he has a million dollar pension?  Is the point you can’t be a radical leftist if you’ve got a pension and a mortgage?  That it’s hypocritical to bite the hand that simultaneously feeds and strangles you?  Personally, I think the good people of the state of Pennsylvania got a very good return on their investment in Professor Berube.

    Posted by south(west)paw  on  04/30  at  05:08 PM
  29. Is the point you can’t be a radical leftist if you’ve got a pension and a mortgage?

    Sadly, the point is that the Horowitzian playa-hater cannot tolerate the success of a perceived political opponent.

    Posted by GForce  on  04/30  at  05:36 PM
  30. GForce - the link you provide quotes Hayek, one of the gods worshipped by the libertarian anarcho-capitalist Austrian cult that dominante the economics blogosphere (Cafe Hayek, Marginal Revolution, Econlong, Tech Central, Lew Rockwell, et cetera ad nauseum).  [The other gods are Mises and Rothbard.]

    Is Horowitz a libertarian?  How come none of these rightwing cheerleaders have noticed that big business is just as big a threat to freedom as big government?

    Posted by south(west)paw  on  04/30  at  06:21 PM
  31. Is Horowitz a libertarian?

    No, nothing that principled or coherent. D. Ho is a petty opportunist who knows exactly how his bread gets buttered. His conservative Masters direct him to espouse a free market in everything but ideas.

    Posted by GForce  on  04/30  at  08:25 PM
  32. Dr. GForce,

    I’ve read your very thoughtful essay and you make some very good points indeed.  Your mother must be very proud.  But I do wonder about the books you’ve been reading to back up your arguments.  I have in mind this passage from your recent comments here in particular:

    In this very important book (which I have yet to finish reading) Heath & Potter allow us to see how the Bush vs. Kerry pseudo-dichotomy--the idea of a Grand Struggle of Opposing Worldviews--is merely an extension of the enduring, essentializing, mutually-reassuring, myth of Counterculture vs. Mainstream Culture....The problem, as Heath & Potter so eloquently demonstrate, is that this binary model of the cultural universe is a chimera.

    I’ve read and thorougly enjoyed all of the books in that series but try as I might I can’t keep wondering how you think Harry Potter is at all relevant to the contemporary political scene in the United States of America.  Perhaps you might address this issue in a follow-up comment?  (I do agree with you, however, that the scene where Harry Potter battles the chimera is one of the highpoints of the series so far.  Book six, I believe?)

    Best Regards,

    -Emily Litella

    Yes indeedy, high praises are very much due for that Horowitziana line.  But this little gem:

    One can only wonder how many words it would have taken him to refute my accusation about his “baffling logorrhea”.

    Would have won my vote for inclusion in Crooked Timber’s Annals of Academic Putdowns if only it had been a week later.

    Posted by  on  05/01  at  04:31 AM
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