Saturday, December 31, 2011

My New Years Resolution: I'll use "Manichean" again

I used "binarian" for a while, but it never caught on. Today, I noticed a couple of writers I like are fond of "manichean". It just sounds good: man-uh-kee-an. It makes people think you know about history and religion as well as the subject at hand. It's grand.

And, most importantly, it's a resolution I can keep.

The examples:

Glenn Greenwald in Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies: "Worse still is the embrace of George W. Bush’s with-us-or-against-us mentality as the prism through which all political discussions are filtered. It’s literally impossible to discuss any of the candidates’ positions without having the simple-minded — who see all political issues exclusively as a Manichean struggle between the Big Bad Democrats and Good Kind Republicans or vice-versa — misapprehend “I agree with Candidate X’s position on Y” as “I support Candidate X for President” or I disagree with Candidate X’s position on Y” as “I oppose Candidate X for President.”"

Adolph Reed, Jr. in The Limits of Antiracism"My position is—and I can’t count the number of times I’ve said this bluntly, yet to no avail, in response to those in blissful thrall of the comforting Manicheanism—that of course racism persists, in all the disparate, often unrelated kinds of social relations and “attitudes” that are characteristically lumped together under that rubric, but from the standpoint of trying to figure out how to combat even what most of us would agree is racial inequality and injustice, that acknowledgement and $2.25 will get me a ride on the subway. It doesn’t lend itself to any particular action except more taxonomic argument about what counts as racism."