trial by committeee (reply to Foss) <LONG>

Thu, 2 Jun 1994 09:04:02 -0600

Daniel A. Foss writes:

> I have such trouble with distinguishing between the ideological and
>philosophical meanings.

If he had stated 'ideological, emotive and philosophical' I would
completely empathize with this point of view

> By so doing, he inadvertently
>wandered into what I've called the "unasked question," that is, What
>the Authorities who decided there is Fleawill and not the other Thingie
>would want to have Fleawill for.
>By convention, the rejected applicant is exclusively Responsible for
>his her its Inferiority on the basis whereof he she it was reject, and
>is consequently obliged to Take Responsibility wherefor: he she it being
>held solely Accountable for the Inferiority of his her itself. The System
>Default is, therefore, De Fault is Yours. Unless the rejected applicant
>can claim the status of Victim under the Constitution and Civil Rights Act
>of 1964; else, failing that, Multicultural Diversity. Under the latter,
>Candidate Victim Status (CVS) may be secured by claiming membership in a
>social Thingie possessing a Heritage Month or an Awareness Month. Of
>Multicultural Diversity, it may be said that the categorization rules
>are obscure, overlapping, self-contradictory, and even bizarre, but far
>better than what there was before, which was nothing at all...
>...In whose interests, it is explained by Explainers,
>it is, always, to hire the fittest, however defined...
>...Or, to put it another way, the Locus, as in Hocus or Pocus, of Control
>is always within the Individual Loser; never within the collective Winner.
>Aren't we glad it is rigidly determined, as embedded in the culture, when
>it is, as well as not, appropriate to feel guilty for Failure, for which
>we should be held Responsible and Accontable. Elsewise, we'd commit External
>Blame, wherefor we'd Burn in Hell for certain. Exercise Fleawill, or Else.

My experience of this post clearly illustrates what I think Dan Foss' implicit
and central themes are: (1) that ideology and philosophy are genetically (sic)
related, [2] that emotion both underpins and is influenced by both kinds of
discourse and [3] that all three forms of discourse are
'overdetermined'. The committee, in this case, (a metaphor for 'culture' or
'society'] determines, by consulting with arbitrary conventions, the mimetic
value of the candidate/victim's ideas. Thus, the committee employs a
deterministic looking methodology - providing an 'out' for bad decision
making. If the committee believes itself to practice what DF calls 'flea will'
then they must be held responsible, as individuals, for their behavior.
Membership in a committee (a kind of communal organism] precludes
individualistic behavior [democratic ideologies allow individuals to blame
the anonymous 'other' for bad decisions]. We are then stuck with the
double standard of what the blamed victim must do... blame her/him/itself
for some kind of 'inferiority'. Of course, over time, this 'inferiority' will
become manifest in the intellectual extinction of the ideas formed by the
victim, reinforcing the perceived 'inferiority'. I think it would be an under-
statement to call it ironic that the superficially deterministic manipulations
of committees in fact doom that victim's ideas to poor fitness. On the other
hand, it is probably no less ideological/arbitrary/conventional/emotive
for the victim to claim that they have played no part in determining their
own victimization.
In O'Brien's particular case, it seems, 'flea will' and determinism are
used to assign blame with reference to context and ideology. Blame,
fault, and causation are, then, considered to be all-the-same-thing, with
variable connotations. Blame and fault, in our 'committee' are decided
by courts. The explanation industry is more interested in causality,
apparently. The effectiveness of the courts' decisions, in the evolution
of committee ideology, is clearly greater than that of the explanation
industry. It is perhaps ironic that the explanation industry resorts to
a jury-like model for decision making regarding the fate of its employ-
ment prospects. Does it not, then, become, the Obfuscation industry?


Matt Tomaso
Department of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin