Neutrality or partisanship

Photo courtesy of | Staff Writer Grayson Walker responds to “We are more than our politics” and argues that we are all inescapably political beings.

Recently, the Newswire presented an article entitled “We are more than our politics,” in which we were told of the complexity of the sacred individual – the multifaceted nature of each person’s opinions and the necessity of respecting the plurality of those opinions for their own sake.

Cura Personalis is conjured up to delineate the tolerance we must lend to the ideas and opinions of others, to understand that, when you are facing someone with opposing views, you should dare not assert universality, for this is “unhealthy.” No, we must instead buy into the neoliberal-consumerist identity-mongering presented to us as postmodern fractionality. God forbid, you have to justify your opinions, your political stances – you can whimsically combine any of them you like, as if you were picking flavors at an ice cream shop.

Politics has become the choosing of identities with no real content at all – it’s no longer partisan, for this is in bad taste in a world which values lickspittle neutrality and moderation as the highest of virtues. Thoughts and language are only reflections of actual conditions of life. How you self-describe politically is utterly irrelevant; what matters is how your stances relate to the discourse and actions in modern society.

One’s political positions do not exist in a vacuum. The degeneration in our political standards is really a degeneration of reason. The elevation of this purportedly non-partisan, objective space untainted by ideological narratives and human bias is really its own partisan position. When one “takes a step back” and asserts a political “Truth” beyond partisanship, one is creating an uncritically accepted field of power outside control by the people.

Why not get rid of the whole spectacle?

Why not just get things done?

The danger here is that the question of “what’s to be done?” is more and more conceived along technical lines, as something unquestionable and having a basis only in what already exists. An avant-garde politics must be one which precisely politicizes what is conceived as non-political, which tears away the veil of “objectivity” and “plurality” and reveals its partisan character.

My point here is that it is false and dangerous to assert that we should “take a step back” from our political positions. The underlying superstition is that pretenses to your own individuality justify themselves, that, behind the public use of reason, one has a sacred, untouchable island of individuality outside public accountability.

But as radical partisans of democracy, we fervently reject this stance: disagreements must be justified, even to the justifier himself. We do not recognize private islands of individuality outside reason – reason is universal, and that means there are no sacred spaces outside its use. The highest freedom corresponds with the strictest self-disciplining of oneself to the use of universal reason – we recognize no other conception of freedom, because “freedom of choice” does not allow the horizon by which one can alter the framework of choice itself.

If freedom means the ability to do something consciously, to exercise a certain power over an object, then unjustified pretenses to arbitrariness can only be a confirmation of one’s prostration before the ruling order. If one does not assume total, absolute responsibility for one’s ethical/subjective existence, then it will be displaced in some external guarantee/master-figure.

If politics means the subordination of a thing to the public power, to the organization of the people as a mass, then we proudly assert the politicization of the whole sphere of existence – of every facet of existence, even within one’s private use of reason. The more one assumes direct responsibility for ones social existence, the more society conceives itself as enough to rule, as a mass, the less breathing room there is allotted for the “Other,” and the freer we are to master our reality.

Grayson Walker is a first-year Politics Philosophy and the Public major. He is also a staff writer for the Newswire from Greenville, S.C.

Upon request from the author, the title of this article has been changed from “We are only our politics.”