(A note on Hedges’ recent essay How to Think )
Wonderful in spirit, so much so that one can almost excuse the particular words he uses. But unfortunately the words, in keeping with a long-standing tradition of left strategic suicide, equate logic and rationality with conformity and complicity. Logic is treated as a separate category from thinking. Tell that to all the radical, artistic, creative, imaginative hackers, scientists and mathematicians out there. As it turns out, the world we live in is tightly constrained by logic and reason, and we ignore that fact at our peril.
Being intimidated by right-wing economics and think thanks and surrounded by conformism does not entail rejecting logic and reason. The left needs some backbone to stand up for itself, say that it is sure about what it knows, say that it is convinced of what it thinks it knows, and is confident about what it knows and does not know. Even more important is not only to oppose morally bad positions of opponents, but also to call them outright wrong when they are. Above all, we must reclaim the idea that we can use logic and reason to our advantage — they are not the enemy. We are living in a world where “faith has ousted fact” in social affairs — that is not a goal, as Hedges urges, and that is a good reason to put fact back in. Emotion and passion are excellent and good, but even they deserve rational scrutiny occasionally. We need to think, indeed — not retreat to pure romanticism and mysticism.
But I don’t think that is what Hedges means, it’s just what his words say. And his words are better than what they say.