Sunday, August 09, 2009

'At once inside and outside, a critical patriot'

Swiped from John, because a must-read:

“[T]he proper task of the (social) critic,” as defined by J. Peter Euben, a university professor writing for the New York Times, in his review of The Company of Critics, by Michael Walzer: “[E]xposing false appearances of his own society and pointing at the systematic abuse of power; giving expression to his people’s deepest sense of how they ought to live, using the common language which he raises to a new pitch of intensity and argumentative power; reiterating the regulative principles by which one might set things right; and insisting that there are other forms of falseness and other, equally legitimate, hopes and aspirations. Such a critic is bound but never wholly bound to the life he shares with others. He is never uncritical of those in power or of his allies whose similar complaints he often regards as wrongly directed or incompletely stated. He is at once inside and outside, a member apart, a critical patriot, civilly disobedient, committed to a democratic politics that is never democratic enough.”

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