Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Spotty, who is that Ralson Purina guy?


You know, that fellow you're quoting so much lately?

Oh, you must mean John Ralston Saul.

Yeah, that's the guy.

John Ralston Saul is a really smart Canuck, grasshopper. Here's his website. He's a novelist, essayist, and philosopher with a PhD in history from the University of London. Right now, Spot is working on Saul's book Voltaire's Bastards. Here's a summary of it:

Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of
Reason in the West

1992 - Published in: Russia, Spain, Chile, Japan, Italy, France, UK, Australia, Canada, US

In a wide-ranging, provocative anatomy of modern society and its origins, John Ralston Saul explores the reason for our deepening sense of crisis and confusion. Throughout the Western world we talk end­lessly of individual freedom, yet Saul shows that there has never before been such pressure for conformity. Our business leaders describe themselves as capitalists, yet most are corporate employees and financial speculators. We are obsessed with competition, yet the single larg­est item of international trade is a subsidized market in armaments. We call our governments democracies, yet few of us participate in poli­tics. We complain about "invasive government," yet our legal, educational, financial, social, cultural and legislative systems are breaking down.

While most observers view these problems separately, Saul demonstrates that they are largely manifestations of our blind faith in the value of reason. Over the last 400 years, our "rational elites" have gradually instituted re­forms in every phase of social life. But Saul shows that they have also been responsible for most of the difficulties and violence of the same period. This paradox arises from a simple truth which our elites deny: far from being a moral force, reason is no more than an administrative method. Their denial has helped to turn the modern West into a vast, incomprehensible, direction less machine, run by process-minded experts - “Voltaire's bastards" - whose cult of scientific management is bereft of both sense and morality. Whether in politics, art, business, the military, entertainment, science, finance, academia or journalism, these experts share the same outlook and methods. The result, Saul maintains, is a civilization of immense technological power whose peoples increasingly dwell in a world of illusion.

In an even smaller nutshell, boys and girls, Saul argues that Voltaire's rational Enlightenment thinking as a way to discredit the divine right of kings has been turned into little more than an "administrative method."

Is King Banaian, with all his blather about cost-benefit ratios in the face of a major bridge collapse one of Voltaire's bastards, Spotty?

Why, yes, grasshopper, Spot thinks he is.

Boy, that Voltaire guy really go around!

Apparently so.

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