Monday, May 20, 2013

Critique, critique -- that is Moses and the prophets

[with apologies to Karl Marx] 

Roger Mac Ginty (h/t):
Where is the law (and it is followed so religiously that I’m beginning to think it is a law) that says we have to cite Nye, Morgenthau, Kaplan, Keohane etc. I’m sure they are/were extraordinarily nice people and excellent teachers and mentors. But I just find...this followership creepy.
There is no such law. If they're useful to you, cite them. If they're not, don't.
Are we doing enough in this ‘discipline’ to encourage independent thinking, critique, innovation, the breaking of traditions and boundaries? Of course not. Because that would threaten the fiction that there is such a thing as International Relations.
I'm not exactly sure who "we" are, but there is quite a lot of "critique" in "the discipline." Go back to the Ashley/Walker "speaking the language of exile" issue of ISQ (or whatever journal it was). How long ago? As a first-year grad student (somewhat older than my fellow students) in the mid-'90s, I had to read, among other things, Der Derian and Shapiro's edited volume International/Intertextual Relations. Why? Presumably because it aimed to disturb, to destabilize, to criticize 'the discipline'.

Der Derian's opening essay quoted Roland Barthes: "at a certain moment, therefore, it is necessary to turn against Method, or at least to treat it without any founding privilege as one of the voices of plurality -- as a view, a spectacle mounted in the text, the text which all in all is the only 'true' result of any research."

Oh yeah. Bring on The Text.


Anonymous said...

I had always thought that was a legitimately Jewish saying, not a vaguely anti-Semitic one by Marx. Learn something new everyday on these here Internets.

LFC said...

As you prob. gathered (so I'm saying this for the benefit of anyone else who might be stopping by), the reference is to the line in Capital vol. 1 (I googled the line v. briefly to refresh my memory before putting up the post): "Accumulate accumulate, that is Moses and the prophets."

Although Marx had his anti-Semitic moments ("On the Jewish Question" most notably, which I'm not sure I ever actually read all or even most of), it's not clear to me that he meant to be anti-Semitic in the line from Capital, though it could be read that way, I suppose. Would have to check the full context, which I haven't done.

In any case, I think it's 'pure' Marx, rather than a twist by him on a Jewish saying.

Anonymous said...

Now that I think about it (after my coffee), it's obviously taking off on Jesus's remark that "love God" and "love your neighbor as yourself" contain "all the Law and the prophets," Moses being a symbol of the Law.

I was thinking I'd seen a remark by some rabbi that "study Torah" was "Moses and all the prophets." But I probably made that up.

LFC said...

"it's obviously taking off on Jesus's remark"

That probably wouldn't have occurred to me, but yes, now that you mention it.

LFC said...


At some point I will re-post a guest post here from several years ago on Longfellow's poem "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport." It has consistently drawn hits/views since being posted, and I have a feeling you might find it of some interest.

LFC said...


"I was thinking I'd seen a remark by some rabbi that "study Torah" was "Moses and all the prophets." But I probably made that up."

Well, I learned this a.m. (6/22) that Hillel (or perhaps Hillel) said of some injunction re peace and/or loving yr neighbor that that "is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary." I.e. along the same general lines as Jesus' remark.