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3/08/2005 11:47:00 PM | Timothy

Chien Wen and The Little Green Blog
Chien Wen of the Dartmouth Observer points to this Little Green Blog post and says:"In another example of postmodern logic at its worst, The Little Green Blog, without citing any evidence except an op-ed in The D, accuses them of 'covering up their ambitions to make Dartmouth a conservative and backwards institution.' Right."

I have to add my suspicion (emphasis: 'suspicion') that Chien Wen got a little of what I called 'postmodern conservatism' with reference to his co-blogger John Stevenson. I say that here because of his use of 'diversity'. But this is a label issue.

What I really take issue with is Chien Wen hyperbole and vituperation. 'postmodern logic at its worst'?!? If Chien Wen had ever read postmodernism, he would know that is not remotely true. When you see Lyotard trying to say that the Holocaust denier cannot be engaged with logical reasoning (or something like that, sorry if I get this wrong, I'm cribbing this off a book by Alex Callinicos), you see how wrong pomo logic can go (or at least how wrong people accussing postmodern logic of going). While I agree that citing the D is often not enough to prove a case to the skeptical reader, it is not on par with decrying logocentrism. The D is more reliable than Mein Kampf. Chien Wen should even be able to tell what really bad postmodern logic is like by what is quoted in the Review and other publications bemoaning the downfall of education.

Enough with my vituperation. What is so illogical about the content of that little green blog post? Lemuel of LBG says in this post that the candidates want to go in a more conservative and backwards direction. I think it is perfectly plausible to say that the candidates want to go in a more conservative direction. And though it is not 'value-neutral' to use the words 'backwards' to describe conservative changes, someone can honestly believe such changes make the college more backwards. Chien Wen tries to say something akin to (important: akin to) saying, 'well the trustees do not want to take us back to the days when jews were kept out, therefore they must not want to take any regressive steps' Surely LGB, by their judgment, is entitled to label certain steps as conservative and regressive (perhaps they feel that way about athletic programs) . Even if you disagree with this judgment, it is not poor logic, much less postmodern logic at its worst. It only gets anywhere near that level if you assume that LBG had to be saying the candidates were in favor of three steps backwards, when LBG could easily have been oppossed to only one step backward. In Chien Wen's own example, he talks about the Indian and co-education. I'm not sure that his quote proves that these candidates don't want bring back the Indian mascot. (After all, one of the arguments is that the Indian mascot is 'respectful'.) But I'll leave that aside and assume they do. I have no doubt that they want to keep coeducation (to use Chien Wen's other example) and no doubt that LGB knows that, and little doubt that Chien Wen knows that LGB knows this and was not saying otherwise. Chien Wen seems to implying, well if he's not going this far back (or this conservative, if this terminology offends) he must be acceptable. Why can't someone make the argument that 'regressing' or becoming this much conservative is not acceptable? It may not be an argument Chien Wen agrees with. But it is not the worst example of postmodern logic. So LGB is underdeveloped and does not ramble on forever into an unreadable post, as his (and mine) frequently do. Just because someone likes short blog posts does not mean they like Derrida.

Oh, and one other thing. When making his initial election announcement Petitioner candidate Todd Zywicki had four main planks. For one, he relies on little more than a D article (just like Little Green Blog!)

P.S. Mr. Ward of dartlog might be right that 'backwards' tries to frame the issue a certain way, and perhaps in an unfair way. I do not think that affects my point that calling something backwards does not automatically make your point illogical in the worst postmodern way.



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