I was wondering about your review ever since you first mentioned writing it. I agree with your remarks about the significance of Commonwealth and I also agree that it is the best book in the trilogy. That Empire will likely remain the most sold volume does reflect the audience more than the content (as you suggest), but also reflects the context of the audience. When Empire was released the anti-capitalism protest movement was hitting its peak at the popular level. At that time, curious folks from a wide variety of backgrounds were willing to read some “heavier” books. For now, with the anti-capitalism thing having either become passe or having become successfully co-opted and branded, you just won’t find people (in general) reading about it nearly as much. That’s, like, so Seattle ’99, man.
Look, APS, I’m not dissing Kotsko’s reading of H&N. I was pleasantly surprised to discover it is very close to my own. I’m just talking about book sales and why I think book #1 will outsell book #3. I’m pretty aware of what’s going on in Europe and South America (and you forgot to mention India), but I don’t think those events will lead Commwealth to outsell Empire.
I’m more curious about the direction you’re heading. Care to share?
So, why the dickishness with me so often? Was my comment that insulting to you? I was simply trying to suggest that the rather negative take (“the anti-capitalism thing having either become passe or having become successfully co-opted and branded, you just won’t find people (in general) reading about it nearly as much. That’s, like, so Seattle ’99, man”) might not necessarily be true. I didn’t realize you were just talking book sales and, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not entirely sure that’s the reason it will have the lowest sales out of the three. But, whatever.
I wasn’t aware I was being overly dickish with you. My apologies. Given the nature of your comments as I have encountered them on various blogs, I wasn’t aware that you were such a sensitive squirrel. Often it seems to me that you deliberately miss the point of what a person is writing in order to bomb in a one-liner or some sort of jab that isn’t really necessary (IMO). But, look, maybe I’ve overestimated the thickness of your skin so I apologize and am ready to begin anew.
With that in mind, I am genuinely curious as to how you envision your own trajectory relating to these social theorists or philosophers or economists (or whomever) who take issue with capitalism and the contemporary order of things. It seems as though you agree with the criticisms (in theory) but I’m not sure what that means for your life as you live it. Yes, strikes in Europe. Dual power in SA. A “red wave” sweeping India… and APS, where do you fit in?
So, for some reason, out of everyone here, you have come to focus on me and if my life matches up with my ideals? That’s kind of creepy and is about what I thought the problems was. As far as it goes, though, I don’t really feel I have to prove myself to you. As for the rest, I don’t see myself there, but whatever, by all means, be a dick to me. Was just curious where it was coming from and, while bewildered, now I know. But I frankly don’t give a fuck.
Chill, Duchess. I’m not asking you to give a fuck and I’m not asking you to prove yourself. I’ve actually had a lot of back and forth with a lot of folks about how life matches with ideals — in the blogosphere with everyone from Halden and Nate Kerr to Roland Boer — in the Academy with a lot of peeps — from Moltmann to Hauerwas in theology, to Sylvia Keesmaat, Michael Gorman and N.T. Wright in NT, to Todd Gordon in Canadian Political Science, etc. etc. So, when I say I’m curious, I really mean that. I’m just curious. Plus, Adam has written enough about other things to make me think I’ve got a decent enough impression about how he resolves things… you not so much.
I do find it interesting when people get hyper-defensive about this subject. Not uncommon amongst academics. What do you reckon that means?
Ha. I’m not being defensive? And I’ve talked about it enough in the real world and on here that I don’t see why I would start a conversation with someone who already seems to have me assigned to a place. People tend to be defensive when someone seems to be judging them, I’ve noticed, so that could be it! But, no; I’m good.
Dan, you realize, I know, that words, even those written in the comments of a blog, carry with them a tone — intended or not — and yet your rhetorical register still doesn’t change when somebody reads you in a way that you say you are not intending to be taken. I’m not a part of this give and take you have going with Anthony, but even I see the tone that is putting Anthony on the defensive.
Fair enough, Brad. The online rhetoric of APS led me to believe that he could handle a bit more of a blunt exchange without getting his knickers in a knot but I was obviously mistaken about that. I doubt that he would have answered my question regardless (if I asked it more… deferentially, perhaps?), so ya live ya learn. And like I said, I was only curious. From here on out, I’ll be sure to be more gentle when asking him any questions.
Dude, Dan. I’ve never had a problem with you. I’ve liked when we’ve talked books, etc., and desperately want you around so we might continue to do so from time to time. So don’t take this the wrong way: I’m neither privy to nor curious about which instances of Anthony’s rhetoric you’re thinking about, but I find myself strangely invested in this instance of you being a supreme dick. To the point, in fact, that if you find yourself banned this afternoon don’t blame Adam or Anthony, because it will been because of me. Note to you and all: we don’t need deference and we don’t need gentle. We don’t even need civility. But there is something about this particular exchange that is really pissing me off — and it takes a lot for an online exchange to do that. So, please, don’t reply to this or the remainder of this thread unless you can read my mind in such a way as to figure out how to avoid doing so more.
My, um, knickers (what’s with the hetero-normative rhetoric here? More poser than prophet today, Dan?) are completely untwisted. You can be blunt, but you being blunt doesn’t mean I automatically have to respect what you’re asking or implying. Some goes vice versa. Anyway, good review Adam.
I find arguments of the form “assholes have no right to get pissed off” unconvincing and self-serving. Many people have used it when heaping greater abuse on me than I would even imagine using against my worst enemy.
And there’s no deep reasoning needed to know why American academics might react negatively when people ask them how they make a difference in the real world. We live in an anti-intellectual culture, and probably every academic in the world has heard that question from their relatives, friends, and often people they’ve met five seconds earlier. You might as well ask why feminists get tired of being asked whether they’re lesbians.
Also, its a question that isn’t asked neutrally, but always aggressively in that way. “If you think your so anti-capitalist, what are you doing to actually do about it?” versus “How does your thought inform your living?”.
Okay, okay. You all actually know APS (I think), whereas I don’t know APS or any of you, so I’m willing to say that I’m the one who completely missed the boat this time around. It’s amazing what a difference it makes in reading a person’s rhetorical traits if or when you actually know that person (the whole hermeneutic of trust/hermeneutic of suspicion thing). Pardon the diversion and my apologies to Adam as well for distracting attention from a good review. I reckon all of this would have been much easier if we were sitting face-to-face in a pub drinking some of those delightful Trappist beers. So, look, if any of you ever make it to Vancouver, the first few rounds are on me. Discussion, even of the heated sort, is so much better in that sort of environment.
(Also, if anybody ever wants to pick up on the ideals/lived life tension, I would be keen to hear how others negotiate it because it is the largest and most difficult tension in my life. Apparently I didn’t ask the question well before, but if anybody wants to run with it, that’s cool… but I won’t hold my breath, what with the comment policy and all.)
(Second also: I’ve always appreciate good burns, even when I’ve been the target of them and I’ve gotta say that a few of the digs here made me laugh. For me, the point of not giving a fuck is not to be an ass to others — although that happens sometimes — but to be able to laugh at one’s self.)