Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Modus Operandi of the Living Dead, Redux

Or, explaining intellectualism to people too lazy to be intellectuals

Readers of the Nexus will by now be familiar with Enormous Thriving Plants' Audrey, and her numerous ill-avised attempts to declare the death of intellectual conservatism.

Well, Audrey is at it once again. This time her complaint is about a Jonah Goldberg op/ed column "defending" Glenn Beck.

In the column, Goldberg simply posits that Beck is a conservative alternative to left-wing figures like Michael Moore, Janeane Garofalo, Al Franken and Keith Olbermann -- the last of whom he says "pretends he's Edward R Murrow reincarnated when he's really Al Franken with more important hair". He notes that the critical response to Beck is one that has been repeated over and over again.

Goldberg's argument is, indeed, that Beck has made conservatism more accessible and less pretentious than individuals like William F Buckey ever could.

But he also notes that Beck has been extremely successful in promoting serious works of conservative intellectualism (Audrey goes so far as to surround "serious works" with quotation marks).

Audrey concludes with a less-than-austere plea: "Please, Jonah... continue to join Beck, Palin, Meghan McCain, and Joe the Plumber in the ongoing effort at making conservatism 'more accessible'. If only Buckley were still alive to witness the 'intellectualism' of it all."

Interestingly enough, even Goldberg himself notes that many of the criticisms raised against Beck are valid -- and they most certainly are.

The problem for individuals like Audrey is that they advance their arguments -- in this case, trying to further an argument that conservative intellectualism is a spent force -- under the guise of intellectualism while acting in a manner that strongly suggests that they have no clue what intellectualism is, much less are they prepared to engage in it.

Intellectualism works rather simply: one fashions an argument, makes their argument, and then defends it against the counter-arguments of those who disagree.

It's become utterly obvious that people like Audrey disagree with the arguments of people like Goldberg, but the problem for them is (oddly enough) one well described by this particular commentator (who mostly speaks in words small enough that Audrey can understand them):
"If you don't like something, you say that it sucks, then you make a buncha more things against it.

But the thing is, half of these people who are against it aren't making anything. All they're doing is posting TinyURL links to child pornography, and they're, uh, you know, writing 'desu desu desu desu' a lot. And I tell ya, I've been doing that stuff for years and it is entertaining, but don't expect your opinion to be taken [to be] any more valuable than mine.
It's a sad statement on the level of Audrey's intellectual skill when her folly can be so easily be revealled by an online miscreant in a Guy Fawkes mask.

But few people have ever described the level of discourse that emanates from Enormous Thriving Plants -- and from the vast majority of her blogging compatriots in the Hateful Left -- better.

So while Audrey can run down the works of Jonah Goldberg to her heart's content, she cannot escape from the reality that at least Goldberg has produced an argument, while Audrey hasn't.

Certainly, she can offer the political blogging equivalent of "desu desu desu" to her heart's content. But until she can offer a cogent argument in response to Goldberg's work, at what point does she honestly expect her opinion to be taken to be more valuable than his? Or, for that point, anyone else's?

No one can stop Audrey from offering snickers in response to the works of conservative intellectuals. But seeing as how laughter is not, in itself, an argument, that would still leave Audrey's own brand of intellectualism (un)dead in the water.

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